NCAA Tournament Takeaways: What we learned from women’s round of 64 and men’s round of 32

The best time of year on the sports calendar definitely delivered. With 48 NCAA tournament games played over the course of Sunday and Monday between the men’s and women’s divisions, there was no shortage of basketball action to watch. Hopefully, it made the start of your work week more tolerable. The men’s tournament has whittled its way down to 16 remaining teams and will take the rest of the week off. The women keep rolling on Tuesday with the round of 32.

I don’t know that anything could top what we saw over the first two days of the men’s tournament, but the past two days came pretty close. If you missed anything from the weekend or are just looking to catch up on the big storylines, let me catch you up on what we learned.

Best is yet to come in women’s bracket

After an incredibly boring first day of action, the women’s NCAA tournament started to heat up on Monday. Every single favored seed won on Sunday, with lower seeded teams going 16-0. Georgia Tech did pull off a stunning 17-point second-half comeback to beat upset-minded Stephen F. Austin in overtime. That was about the only real excitement we got on Day 1. Things changed in a big way on Day 2. 11-seed BYU knocked off No. 6 Rutgers for the first upset of the 2021 tournament. Belmont then stunned Gonzaga in a 5-12 seed upset. Wright State took it up a notch, beating 3-seed Arkansas to really shake up the bracket. The best game of the day though was probably the upset that didn’t happen. Troy came agonizingly close to being the first 15-seed to beat a 2-seed. Texas A&M got a little bit of help from the refs to secure its spot in the round of 32, ending what would have been an awesome Cinderella story. You can tell me what you think, but this looks like a backcourt violation to me.

We will get better matchups going forward. Michigan draws Tennessee on Tuesday. Iowa vs. Kentucky should also be thrilling. Could Syracuse possibly topple UConn without coach Geno Auriemma and starting guard Nika Muhl in doubt due to injury? It’s unlikely, but there should hopefully be a bit more intrigue as we move further along. Don’t just write off the division because we had a lackluster start to the proceedings. You never know when you might get an Arike Ogunbowale moment. That’s what makes it March Madness.

Chaos reigns in the men’s bracket

Speaking of 15 seeds, Oral Roberts continues its unlikely run, becoming just the second 15-seed to ever reach the Sweet 16. Max Abmus and company took down an SEC power this time in Florida and set up a date with another SEC school in Arkansas. While that is all wild and fun, it probably isn’t even the most shocking region in the field. Illinois fell to Loyola Chicago, Oregon State knocked off Oklahoma State and Syracuse toppled West Virginia. Rutgers also came very close to upsetting Houston, ultimately blowing an eight-point lead with four minutes to play. Still, the region is guaranteed to have either an 8-seed or a 12-seed in the Elite Eight. Plus, don’t rule out the Orange taking out the Cougars given how well Buddy Boeheim and company are shooting the rock. In total, there are four double-digit seeds in the Sweet 16.

We could still end up with a very chalky Final Four, but that’s looking less and less likely with every round. It seems like there are a few more upsets on the horizon and we could end up with a very high seed participating in the final weekend of the tournament.

Pac-12 does it again

In both divisions, the self-proclaimed Conference of Champions continues to excel. On the women’s side, that was expected. Pac-12 women’s teams went 6-1, with Washington State the only team to not make it out of the first round. The Cougars were also the only underdog, at least from a seeding perspective. It speaks to the dominance of the conference as a whole.

Meanwhile, the men’s Pac-12 teams are pulling off upsets left and right. I already mentioned Oregon State knocking out Oklahoma State. USC stormed past Kansas, handing the Jayhawks their worst loss in NCAA tournament history. Oregon dropped 95 points on Iowa to end the Hawkeyes’ title hopes. UCLA also cruised into the Sweet 16, taking care of Abilene Christian. Only Colorado came up short, getting blown out by Florida State. Ironically, Colorado was the highest men’s team from the conference this year. In a year where nothing makes sense, at least that still applies to basketball.

What’s wrong with the men from the Big Ten?

All season long, we heard about how great the Big Ten was. The conference was incredibly deep, evidenced by the eight teams from the conference to make the field, including two No. 1 seeds. After two rounds, only Michigan remains, and the Wolverines were definitely tested by LSU. Illinois suffered a shocking upset. Iowa got blitzed in transition by Oregon, despite Luka Garza scoring 36 points. Ohio State didn’t even reach the second round. After I panned the ACC for only having two teams left after the first round, it has more teams in the Sweet 16 than the Big Ten does. Maybe it was just fatigue after a long season of beating up on each other, but this has to go down as a disappointment for the conference after all of its regular-season success.

Why wasn’t Baylor a No. 1 seed again?

The defending champions in the women’s division narrowly missed being on the top line, instead settling for a No. 2 seed. After watching the Lady Bears drop 101 points on Jackson State while NC State struggled early against North Carolina A&T, it is fair to question if the committee got it right. Now, the Wolfpack did lose Kayla Jones to injury, but after one round, it certainly looks like the committee messed up. It happens all the time. On the men’s side, it is clear Loyola Chicago deserved better than a No. 8 seed. If it sounds like I am splitting hairs, consider this: Baylor has to go through UConn to reach the Final Four (assuming both teams make it that far.) NC State would draw Texas A&M, who nearly lost to Troy, if seeding holds the rest of the way. I don’t care how good you are, you would rather be playing Texas A&M with a trip to the Final Four on the line than UConn.

CBS gets creative with its graphics

March Madness has undoubtedly delivered on the hype, particularly after skipping a year, but I don’t think anyone could have anticipated this gem. Greg Gumbel’s face will no doubt be a meme for years to come. This clip has already made its rounds on social media, and I don’t think it will stop any time soon. What makes it even better, is that CBS doubled down and used these weird Mii adjacent dancers, this time supported by their television producers as backup dancers.

The Madness is clearly spreading. I apologize if you cannot unsee this.

Just stop checking your bracket

If you are like me, your bracket is likely toast by now. I picked Illinois to win it all in the men’s division and I picked all the wrong early-round upsets on the women’s side. Only two perfect brackets remain in ESPN’s Women’s Tournament Challenge. I honestly don’t know if anyone successfully predicted the 16 teams left in the men’s bracket. This seems like a good time to mention that ESPN has a Second Chance Bracket. No, it’s not nearly as fun, but I will never get tired of filling these things out.

NCAA Tournament Takeaways: What we learned from men’s first round

The greatest time of year on the sports calendar is finally here. We have all waited a very long time to enjoy March Madness. At long last, our full days of meaningful basketball games have returned! The men’s NCAA tournament is off to a thrilling start and there is still plenty to come with the second round of action on Sunday and the women’s tournament getting underway. With the first 36 games in the books on the men’s side, let’s take a look at what we learned.

We really missed March Madness

Whether it was Oral Roberts stunning Ohio State, Ohio knocking out the defending champs, or complaining about our brackets being busted, it was so good to have the NCAA tournament back. Friday really spoiled us with tons of upsets and three overtime games. Saturday was a bit more tame early on, but we still had plenty to talk about with Virginia losing its first NCAA tournament game since the biggest upset ever against UMBC in 2018, VCU bowing out due to COVID-19 positive tests and Abilene Christian shocking Texas. To put it in perspective, my friend Akshat offers a very sobering comparison.

Needless to say, we all needed March Madness back in our lives. The second round of the men’s tournament starts Sunday, as does the first round of the women’s tournament. There are going to be an absurd number of basketball games on. Savor these moments. As we learned last year, we can’t take it for granted and before we know it, the season will be over and we will be without college basketball once again.

The NCAA still has a long way to go on gender equity

This should come as no surprise, but the women competing in San Antonio were not given the same treatment as their male counterparts in Indianapolis. While the men had a full weight room, the women had one weight rack with a few dumbbells. Thankfully, Oregon’s Sedona Prince was unwilling to stand for this.

The NCAA botched the whole situation. They issued all kinds of excuses and apologies, but that does not erase the very apparent issue. The NCAA does not have the best interests of women’s college sports at heart. I get that the men’s game makes more revenue, but for the governing body of college sports to not only allow, but play a hand in increasing the gap between men’s and women’s sports is disgusting. All signs point to Mark Emmert being unqualified to hold his position. Thankfully, athletes from the NBA, WNBA and men’s college hoops spoke up on social media and Prince’s tweet went viral. It made national news broadcasts across the country and reignited the conversation surrounding a lack of funding and respect for female college athletes. I won’t pretend that this fixes everything, but it is good to put the spotlight on the issue. And, as a result, the NCAA fixed the situation.

It is nice to see that these athletes can use their platform to advocate for themselves, but it is way past time for these things to stop happening. Hopefully, the NCAA actually learns something from this incident and addresses how they prioritize their athletes. I won’t be holding my breath though.

Cinderella is alive and well

Four teams seeded 13 or higher reached the Round of 32 for the first time in tournament history. No. 13 North Texas, No. 13 Ohio, No. 14 Abilene Christian and No. 15 Oral Roberts all booked spots in the second round in stunning fashion. In total, nine double-digit seeds made it through the first round. With Abilene Christian set to face No. 11 UCLA, we are guaranteed to have a double-digit seed in the Sweet 16. In a year unlike any other, there was bound to be upsets. I expected that. This level of chaos was not something I saw coming.

Could one of these teams truly be Cinderella and reach the Final Four? Recent history suggests that it is likely. From 2013 to 2018, a team seeded 7th or higher made it to the Final Four. No. 11 Loyola Chicago did in 2018. No. 7 South Carolina made it to the final weekend in 2017. No. 10 Syracuse stunned everyone with a semifinal appearance in 2016. No. 7 Michigan State reached the Final Four in 2015. No. 7 UConn beat No. 8 Kentucky in the National Championship game in 2014. What a wild year that was. No. 9 Wichita State made a semifinal run in 2013. It is far from a guarantee, but all signs point to another unforeseen team making a deep run.

If I had to pick one team from this year’s group, I am looking at UCLA. Michigan is not at full strength without Isaiah Livers. Alabama looked plenty mortal against Iona. Florida State and Colorado have high ceilings, but low floors. Mick Cronin’s group is my pick to play Cinderella this year after watching the first round.

Pac-12 came to play

Only one conference in men’s college hoops emerges from the first round undefeated. The Pac-12 went 5-0 as Colorado, USC, Oregon, UCLA and Oregon State all advanced to the round of 32. Now, that record has an asterisk because Oregon advanced without actually playing, but this is still incredibly impressive. Georgetown was a very trendy upset pick over Colorado, but the Buffaloes blew out the Hoyas by 23. In fact, all four teams that actually played won by double digits, which is just unheard of. None of these teams were seeded a five seed.

Now, the task gets much harder going forward. Florida State, Kansas, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma State await, but after what we have seen so far, it would be a mistake to count this conference out. Remember this next year when you are making your bracket. It’s important to eliminate that East Coast bias.

ACC was as bad as we thought

Speaking of teams on the East Coast, the ACC was downright terrible. And this should not come as a shock. Despite having seven teams in the tournament field, this was a down year for the conference. Virginia and Florida State were the highest-seeded teams, landing on the four-seed line. Much has been made of Duke’s struggles, but they were far from the only blue blood to miss a step this year. UNC was incredibly inconsistent. Georgia Tech was too. Virginia Tech and Clemson faded down the stretch. Louisville, who arguably should’ve been in the field, had some ugly losses. The bottom of the conference was really bad as well. Miami, Notre Dame, Boston College, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest all finished with losing records. A 2-5 showing in the first round feels like a fair reflection. Syracuse and Florida State advance, but their opponents, West Virginia and Colorado respectively, could very well keep the ACC out of the Sweet 16 all together.

What home state advantage?

Purdue was the only school from the state of Indiana to go dancing his year. The Boilermakers earned a top-four seed and seemed poised for a potential Sweet 16 run playing in front of a largely pro-Purdue crowd. North Texas had other ideas. Until arenas are back to full capacity, it might be hard to count on location making much of a difference in the outcome of games. These limited capacity crowds are really fun. Grand Canyon students gave us some memorable moments, but it is clear crowd noise and energy is still not too much of a factor.

All or nothing for Virginia

This time around, it is a bit more understandable why the Cavaliers were upset. The team was not able to practice all week due to COVID-19 protocols and the rust was clear on offense. UVa scored its fewest points of the season as they shot 35 percent from the field and 25.8 percent from behind the arc. 

It is easy to forget, but Virginia was actually the defending champion, having won the tournament in 2019. That means UVa’s last loss in the NCAA tournament came in 2018, which just so happens to be the infamous UMBC game. Looking at how this all played out over the past three tournaments, I think the Cavaliers would do it all again if given the chance. Those first-round upsets sting, but those national championship banners hang in the rafters forever. (Well most of the time. Sorry, Louisville.)

Buddy Buckets is for real

For those wondering, Buddy Boeheim is more than just the coach’s son. In the month of March, Boeheim is averaging 26.7 points per game. He went off for 30 in Syracuse’s first-round win against San Diego State, including a torrid stretch where he scored 16 straight points. He is joined by Kevin Obanor of Oral Roberts and Miles McBride from West Virginia as the only players to reach the 30-point mark in the Round of 64 this year. Boeheim and McBride will face off on Sunday as well, so prepare for some major fireworks. As a Syracuse alum, I don’t think I could have written this column without mentioning Jim Boeheim’s youngest son.

Making a perfect bracket is impossible

We didn’t even get through the first round before everyone’s brackets were busted. ESPN and Bleacher Report both announced that no users on their site had a perfect bracket after Ohio upset Virginia and Maryland knocked off UConn. I didn’t even come close to making it that far. I had UNC facing Ohio State in the Elite Eight with the Buckeyes advancing to the Final Four. That didn’t quite pan out, with both teams suffering first-round losses. Texas was also in my Final Four. Trying to predict the outcome of 63 games is inherently difficult as it is. Add in the wild range of possible outcomes from college athletes and you have what makes the tournament so entertaining. The single-elimination format makes it truly unpredictable. So while your bracket may not be perfect, you can take solace in knowing that no one else managed to predict all these results either. And maybe now there is still hope you could win your bracket pool.

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Basketball needs a new villain

The curtain has come down on what proved to be an NBA season chock full of storylines. Kawhi Leonard delivered Toronto its first title, LeBron James missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, and Golden State missed out on the first 3-peat since a guy named Jordan did it in the 90s. Yet, as the dust settles, one key role has been left shockingly unfilled in the world of basketball. For the first time in quite a while, basketball does not have a villain.

Kobe Bryant
The Black Mamba won 5 titles spanning the course of 11 years. (Flikr)

This role, most recently portrayed by Kevin Durant, is one common to basketball for decades. Sometimes, it even manifested into teams. The “Bad Boys” were the clear villain in the NBA during the late 80s, led by Bill Laimbeer. The mantle was passed to Christian Laetner in the early 90s. The late 90s were owned by that Kobe kid. He likely held that title for quite a while, even giving his persona a name which struck fear into the heart of his opponents. Although JJ Reddick really challenged him for the crown during the mid 2000’s.

In 2010, LeBron James announced he would be taking up the role until further notice when he created the first modern era super team. When he stepped down, as his character arc brought him back to hero status, Grayson Allen stepped up to bring back the Duke hate. That led us into Durant’s reign when he signed with Golden State.

391px-lebron_james_vs_washington_3-30-11
The King became the league’s best villain ever with his move to South Beach. (Wikimedia Commons)

There is no doubt though that Durant is done with the role, after attempting to play through injury in the finals before rupturing his Achillies, as the Warriors ultimately succumbed to injuries and the might of Kawhi Leonard. That kind of grit and determination won over a lot of the haters. Golden State already seemed to be losing steam as the league’s big bad. With Durant set to miss most or all of next season, Grayson Allen wasting away in Utah and LeBron looking like a business mogul in L.A., it is safe to say basketball will be holding auditions to replace him as its antagonist.

It is hard to know where to look for the next villain of basketball. The men’s college game didn’t produce any worthy candidates. It’s best player was one of the nicest people on the planet. The women’s college game didn’t even come close to manufacturing a leading lady, as Sabrina Ionescu (basically) felled every triple-double record ever known. The closest thing the WNBA might have is Brittney Griner, but she doesn’t seem to command the same level of animosity she did in college.

The NBA seems like the best bet to unearth the next great basketball antihero. With free agency looming and the Lakers acquisition of Anthony Davis, could Los Angeles once again become the home of the sport’s evil empire? This is Hollywood after all. They produce great villains all the time.

LeBron’s Lakers feel like the only remaining hope for a true villain right now in basketball. There is the potential college basketball will suddenly find a worthy contender, but no one seems ideally placed to take on the role. In the NBA, none of the current superstars feel all that hateable. Leonard is way too soft spoken. Giannis Antetokounmpo feels way too lovable. The closest thing the Association currently has to a new villain is Drake. In order for him to truly vault into that position, the Raptors would need to be a consistent contender. That is far from guaranteed. It also feels pretty lame if the villain is not even a player.

I just feel lost right now in terms of who to hate. After so many years of great villains, I can’t buy into hating the Lakers yet. I now feel bad for Durant and the Warriors. I dislike James Harden, but that hardly elevates him to villain status. Basketball just looks like a villain-less wasteland.

No, basketball must truly return to the drawing board and craft up a new character to lord over the sport, inspiring hate in all of our social media diatribes. The NBA capped its incredible storytelling with a masterstroke of having the unsuspecting Raptors vanquish the mighty Warriors, but it came at the cost of its best villain in years.

Uncertainty at the top of men’s college basketball

We are in the thick of the NFL playoffs, but it is time to take a short break from football and focus on the odd phenomenon occurring right now in the world of men’s college basketball.

NCAA_logoThis is the eleventh time this season that college basketball has seen a set of top 25 rankings. For the fifth time already this year, there is a new team atop those rankings, this time in the form of Oklahoma.

However, the Sooners just took a major loss to Iowa State on the road and it is likely that we will see Oklahoma drop from the top spot. Looking at how the schedule is shaking out right now, North Carolina will likely vault back into the top spot. That would represent the sixth change at the top of the poll in just the first 12 weeks.

Talk about a lack of continuity. Six changes through 12 weeks is the most we have seen since 1994, when we had seven changes in those first dozen weeks. North Carolina would be returning to the top spot, but it would be for the first time since the second poll of the season.

After last season when Kentucky went wire to wire as the number one team, this switch to parity seems kind of odd.

In addition to the top 25 failing to find a consistent king, the power five conferences have some unfamiliar faces at the top. The ACC seems pretty uniform with North Carolina perched at the top, with an unblemished conference record. Everywhere else, we are seeing the preseason favorites failing to live up to the hype.

In the Big 12, Kansas, who has dominated this conference for the majority of the last decade, sits behind Baylor. It might only be a one game lead, but Baylor jumping out to this spot about halfway through conference play is surprising.

Looking over at the Big 10, Michigan State has a losing record in conference play. Ohio State isn’t at the top either. Indiana leads the conference with a perfect record so far. Right behind them is Iowa. Odds are this one will shake out as we expected with a modern power back at the top, as Iowa and Indiana match up twice before the end of the season. Indiana also has games at the Big House, East Lansing and in College Park. Iowa still has some tough games on the slate too.

The PAC 12 is all over the place. It’s not Arizona, Stanford or UCLA at the top of the conference, but Washington. Washington, who hasn’t won the PAC 12 regular season title since 2011. Only half a game behind Washington is USC, who hasn’t won a regular season conference championship since 1985. Arizona and UCLA, who have won the last three regular season conference titles, file in at third and seventh respectively. Far from out of the picture, but there is definitely a changing of the guard going on here.

However, the conference with the most confusion has to be the SEC. The conference has been dominated by Kentucky, even during down season’s for the Wildcats. If Kentucky did not win, then it was Florida who stole the regular season title. The last time a team that was the Wildcats or the Gators won the SEC regular season crown was 2009, when LSU captured the top spot. This season, the conference is being dominated by Texas A&M and South Carolina. Both schools find themselves in the top 25 and A&M has a nice spot in the top 10.

In an era of one and dones, we should have always expected for the traditional power to break and for others to rise. Yet, somehow we didn’t. We all expected Kentucky to continue its run at the top. Many figured Virginia would be a national power, following their back-to-back ACC titles. Instead, the Cavaliers have lost four games to unranked opponents. Gonzaga also figured to be a consistent top 25 team, but close losses have knocked them from the rankings altogether.

This should not be anything shocking. It is just a friendly reminder why we should all love college basketball. It is also the first signs that college hoops might finally have some parity. The constant rotation of number one teams and the new faces atop the conference indicate that there is some room for turnover. SMU is the only top 25 team who still has a zero in the loss column. Like I said, for some, this is just a reminder. For others, it is an assurance that college basketball is trending in the right direction and should always command your attention.

Oh and this definitely bodes well for March.

NBA Draft Rapid Reactions

The draft is barely in the books but it is time to react to all that happened tonight. There were plenty of winners and losers and even more head scratching selections. The implications going forward are huge as well. Let’s get started.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Selections: Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Kentucky, Tyus Jones, PG, Duke
Towns will be a superstar and compares well to another Timberwolf in Kevin Garnett. He, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine give the Wolves an exciting young core to build around. The Jones selection is a little troubling. He is unproven and Minnesota has a number of young guards.

Los Angeles Lakers
Selections: DeAngelo Russell, PG, Ohio State, Larry Nantes Jr., PF, Wyoming, Anthony Brown, SF, Stanford
The Lakers made the right choice in selecting Russell. He and Julius Randall certainly give the Lakers some hope for the future. Nantes and Brown infuse some youth and some potential into a team that desperately needs it.

Philadelphia 76ers
Selections: Jahlil Okafor, C, Duke, Richaun Holmes, PF, Bowling Green, Arturuas Gudaitas, C, Lithuania, J.P. Tokoto, SG, UNC, Luka Mitrovic, PF, Serbia
Philly had the most picks in the draft and still came away with more. Okafor will be a great player and his presence makes either Joel Embiid or Nerlens Noel expendable. If one of the second rounders can develop then this will be a success for the 76ers rebuilding project.

New York Knicks
Selection: Kristaps Portzingis, PF, Latvia, Jerian Grant, PG, Notre Dame, Willy Hernangómez, C, Spain
Knicks fans aren’t happy with Portzingis being selected at four and it might have been a bit of a reach. However, if they are patient he could be a steal. I love that they landed Grant though as he should be a playmaker on a team that lacks one.

Orlando Magic
Selections: Mario Herzonja, SG, Croatia, Tyler Harvey, SG, Eastern Washington
All signs say that Herzonja is a lights out shooter and with his size he could be a small forward. That might lessen the blow of Tobias Harris potentially leaving. Harvey needs some time but the Magic have to be happy with their draft.

Sacramento Kings
Selection: Willie Caulie-Stein, C, Kentucky
When your star player demands you take a certain prospect, you usually do it. DeMarcus Cousins and Caulie-Stein will be quite the frontcourt duo in Sacramento. Shame he is the only rookie they got.

Denver Nuggets
Selections: Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, China, Nikola Radicevic, PG, Serbia
Apparently the Nuggets felt they needed a point guard. Mudiay is a huge question mark but oozes upside. Ty Lawson is likely on his way out though with Radicevic being selected as well.

Detroit Pistons
Selections: Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona, Darrun Hillard, SG, Villanova
Johnson may very well be great someday but with Justise Winslow still on the board I don’t fully understand this one. Darrun Hillard offers some playmaking ability but nothing eye-popping. Decent hall for Detroit but could have been better.

Charlotte Hornets
Selection: Frank Kaminsky, C, Wisconsin
Only one pick means that Charlotte failed to do more. Kaminsky is a talented player though and should contribute immediately. Won’t make Charlotte a contender overnight but definitely a step in the right direction.

Miami Heat
Selections: Justise Winslow, SF, Duke, Josh Richardson, SG, Tennessee
Winslow at 10 might end up being a huge steal for the Heat. Richardson won’t contribute right away but he could be a key bench player in a year or two. Good draft for Miami. If only they could find a way to pay all their free agents now…

Indiana Pacers
Selections: Myles Turner, C, Texas, Joseph Young, SG, Oregon
The selection of Turner means that Roy Hibbert is moving. Plain and simple. The team has already begun shopping him. Young is a bit undersized for a shooting guard but he could still turn in a solid player to spell a starter down the line.

Utah Jazz
Selections: Trey Lyles, PF, Kentucky, Olivier Hanlan, PG, Boston College
Lyles is without a doubt a talented player. He is very raw all the way around but he has a lot of potential. Pairing him with Rudy Gobert will be a lot of fun to watch. Hanlan is a good pick too and could be a future starter for the Jazz.

Phoenix Suns
Selection: Devin Booker, SG, Kentucky,
Only one pick but they made it count. Phoenix didn’t make themselves a contender in the draft but they took a valuable piece who should be a starter soon. His shooting alone with get him on the court this year.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Selections: Cameron Payne, PG, Murray State, Dakari Johnson, C, Kentucky
Drafting a pro ready point guard to spell Russell Westbrook means the Thunder are realizing how small their championship window is at the moment. Selecting Johnson helps them prolong that potential window a little longer too.

Atlanta Hawks
Selections: Marcus Erikkson, SF, Spain, Dimitrios Agravanis, PF, Greece
Two second rounders don’t exactly scream championship builders. Neither does Tim Hardaway. No idea what the Hawks were thinking, especially when they had a talent like Kelly Oubre fall into their lap.

Boston Celtics
Selections: Terry Rozier, PG, Louisville, R.J. Hunter, SG, Georgia State, Jordan Mickey, PF, LSU, Marcus Thornton, SG, William & Mary
Rozier is good but a bit of a head scratcher with Jerian Grant still on the board. Mickey and Hunter are very solid picks though and should immediate contribute to this young Celtics team.

Milwaukee Bucks
Selection: Rashad Vaughn, SG, UNLV
He is a steal. Vaughn is a talented scorer coming from a good program. He will be a solid bench piece right away and help a woefully bad Bucks team on offense. Griveis Vasquez isn’t a bad add either, but it came at too steep a price.

Houston Rockets
Selections: Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin, Montrezl Harrell, PF, Louisville
Passing on Jerian Grant seems a little foolish but Dekker is a top talent. He showed he could do it all this year at Wisconsin. Harrell will be a good bench asset right away. If the Rockets find a point guard in free agency, they could very easily find themselves in the finals next year.

Washington Wizards
Selections: Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas, Aaron White, PF, Iowa
Landing Oubre for jump change was ingenious. He is in a spot too where he can develop for a year as well coming off the bench. Aaron White provides some depth, about what you would expect from a second round pick.

Toronto Raptors
Selections: Delon Wright, PG, Utah, Norman Powell, SG, UCLA
Wright landed in a good spot and now the Raptors have a contingency plan when Louis Williams or Kyle Lowry becomes too expensive. Powell won’t see much action to start but could be in the mix next season.

Dallas Mavericks
Selections: Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia, Satnam Singh, C, India
Anderson could one day be an All-Star if he reaches his full potential. Rick Carlisle will probably get it out of him too. Singh is another big body who can eventually rotate in and disrupt the paint when Tyson Chandler needs a breather.

Chicago Bulls
Selection: Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas,
The frontcourt is looking very crowded at the moment and with it likely that either Derrick Rose or Jimmy Butler will be gone next year getting a guard might have been good. However, Portis is a steal at 22 and will give the Bulls some depth, or a bargaining chip.

Portland Trailblazers
Selections: Pat Connaughton, SG, Notre Dame, Daniel Diez, SF, Spain
Add in Mason Plumlee as well. With LaMarcus Aldridge set to leave and Nicolaus Batum already gone this team is thinking youth movement. Portland certainly accomplished that.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Selections: Cedi Osman, SF, Macedonia, Rakeem Christmas, PF, Syracuse, Sir’Dominic Pointer, SF, St. John’s
Cleveland landed too high floor, low ceiling prospects in Christmas and Pointer as well as one for the future in Osman. This team is trying to win a title. They made some really good strides toward doing that.

Memphis Grizzlies
Selections: Jarell Martin, PF, LSU, Andrew Harrison, PG, Kentucky
Athleticism with lots of potential was the trend for Memphis. These two picks were definitely risky but they could pay off in the end. No short term help for the Griz though.

San Antonio Spurs
Selections: Nikola Milutinov, C, Serbia, Cady Lalanne, PF, UMass
Of course the Spurs took an international player that most of us had never heard of. I can’t fault them though cause that usually works out pretty well for them. Lalanne could be a role player as well as the Spurs make one last push for a title with their current core.

New Orleans Pelicans
Selection: Branden Dawson, SF, Michigan State
About all you can hope for when you are picking on in the second round. Dawson has some upside and had flashes of brilliance this season for Michigan State. It is doubtful but he could end up like another former Michigan State second-rounder (Draymond Green).

Los Angeles Clippers
Selections: None
Not much to say other than they better have a plan. The Clippers really could have used some new blood so this really hurts.

Brooklyn Nets
Selections: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, SF, Arizona, Chris McCollough, PF, Syracuse, Juan Vaulet, SF, Argentina
Giving up Plumlee is no fun but Hollis-Jefferson could be a star one day. McCollough has a ton of potential as well as a highly recruited prospect before he tore his ACL. Vaulet is a prospect for down the road. Good draft for Brooklyn.

Golden State Warriors
Selection: Kevon Looney, PF, UCLA
Looney fits Golden State’s idea of small ball as a stretch 4. With all of Looney’s potential as well, this could be a great pick for the defending champs when we look back in about three years.