The Golden State Warriors had as many picks as you and I did going into the NBA Draft, but ended up making the most trades (3), moving up and down the board as if it was Monopoly night, and ultimately coming away with a 22-year old Serbian guard no one of us has ever heard of.
If that doesn't bear some Trent Baalke comparisons for you, it's probably tough rooting for the Oakland Raiders week in and week out. The way Bob Myers and the Warriors maneuvered the draft board didn't scream out "STEAL!" but it was mighty impressive the way they were able to understand the market around them, play to their strengths and ostensibly select a player they coveted.
Gone, hopefully, are the days that we look exasperatingly at the television as the Warriors select Ekpe Udoh over Greg Monroe (the easy pick), Patrick O'Bryant after two good college games, or Marco Belinelli (a player drafted to replace Jason Richardson). So yeah, we used to be these guys (watch carefully at the innocent victim at 0:16 and 0:43, he really isn't feeling the pick, I think) and now we're not.
There isn't much on Nemanja Nedovic (I'll have to get used to typing that all year) on the interwebs but the scant highlights and scouting reports do give us an impression that he's an athletic combo guard. If he can finish at the rim, that's an immediate bonus on what Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson can do. He is 22, which is scary—not in a good way—considering the Warriors haven't stated whether they will stash him or not, and his slot as a first round pick means he will acquire a guaranteed deal.
But ultimately, the Warriors' standing as one of the best teams in the Western Conference doesn't change much, as expected, by the relatively "weak" draft class coming in. There were no Kevin Durant or LeBron James-level talent that would change a non-contender like the Sacramento Kings to a fringe playoff team. Hell, there wasn't even an Andrew Bogut-level talent in the top five.
The excellent writers at SLC Rock are excited about the Burke and Rudy Gobert additions, as well they should be. If Tyrone Corbin ever decides to play his talented young players, a core of Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hawyward, Alec Burks and Burke can win a lot of games. Ultimately, they'd need a perfect storm of growth, minutes realized and injury fortune for them to win 42+ games. Lots of potential here but probably a year or two away from threatening the Western Conference landscape.
The Portland Trailblazers were in the playoff hunt through midseason before falling apart because of their lack of depth. The writers at Blazer's Edge applauded their team's ability to draft without a random Cody Zeller-esque surprise and use the very special BPA (best player available) strategy. But that didn't mean that it was boring. The additions of C.J. McCollum, not to be confused with Ray McCallum who went to the Sacramento Kings, and Allen Crabbe add depth and shooting to the guard position. Meanwhile, Jeff Withey should play minutes in a Festus Ezeli role as a shot blocker. If the Blazers don't trade LaMarcus Aldrige in a measured rebuild, they should contend for the lower playoff seeds again. Barring a Lillard-esque rookie campaign from McCollum, they shouldn't represent much of a threat if the Warriors are healthy. That shouldn't discount the two-way potential beast-ness of a Lillard, McCollum, Aldrige, Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews lineup.
Perhaps the largest earth-shattering move in a hectic draft included two of NBA's most boring teams, the New Orleans Pelicans and Philadelphia 76ers. We won't discuss the Sixers here because they are in the Eastern Conference but there's no discounting that newly hired Sam Hinkie did a great job picking up Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and a top-five protected pick in a loaded 2014 draft. The Pelicans, on the other hand. acquired Jrue Holiday to go along with their core of Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson.
The AtTheHive trade reaction is tempered and realistic but it shouldn't discount the upgrade the Pelicans have made, despite spending a ton of money in eschewing future assets. I just drooled a bit thinking about Davis and Noel engulfing shots but alas. Like the Warriors, if injury-prone Gordon and thin-framed Davis can stay healthy, there is enough talent here to make a run in the Westen Conference.
The West will come down to the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers making up the top three while the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets fill out the next tier. These three teams had a strong draft night but didn't make any ground-breaking moves that could shake up the Western Conference—barring any unforeseen breakout performances.
Then again, if Stephen Curry can play 79 games on a wobbly ankle in an 82-game regular season, anything is possible. The incoming class might make an impact but the "Tank for Andrew Wiggins " craze might decide many more games.