This review of the Southeast Division concludes the Eastern Conference. Here are the articles for the Atlantic and Central reviews.
Key Additions: Jared Cunningham, Dennis Schroeder, Lucas Nogueira, Mike Muscala
This Atlanta Hawks draft class definitely has an international flair to it. Schroeder and Nogueira are two high-reward projects that will need a couple of years of experience to adjust to the NBA.
Schroeder is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft: he is lightning quick, pressures the ball defensively, and reminds many of Rajon Rondo. He may not have the court vision and passing creativity Rondo does, but at 19, he is already a better shooter than scorer than Rondo is at 28. Schroeder will likely back up Jeff Teague for at least a year, unless Teague gets too expensive in free agency.
Nogueira is an athletic big man that still remains much of a mystery. His speed and agility intrigued scouts, but does he have the strength to compete in the NBA?
Cunningham could be an underrated pickup here. He did not get many chances as a rookie in Dallas, but given enough time, he has potential to be a Corey Brewer type role player.
Key Additions: Cody Zeller
Ah, the Bobcats. With Noel and Len both still on the board, they opted to go with Zeller, the sophomore out of Indiana. While Zeller is by no means a bad pick, he does not have the potential both Noel and Len have, and the Bobcats could have gotten him seven picks later. True, the Bobcats need offensive production; then why not go with Len, who is also polished offensively and has a much higher ceiling? Zeller is probably the most ready to contribute in year one, but a team like the Bobcats should be looking at a couple years down the road.
For a draft full of risks and uncertainties, the Bobcats probably went a little too safe here.
Key Additions: James Ennis
Ennis is an athletic, unpolished swingman out of Long Beach State. Many considered him to be a sleeper in the first round, but he will have to prove himself in the summer to make the Heat's championship roster.
Key Additions: Victor Oladipo, Romero Osby
The Magic had their eyes on Oladipo throughout the entire draft process, and they didn't blink even when Noel fell to them. Oladipo will bring work ethic, character, commitment, and a winning mentality down to Orlando, something this young team in need of a direction sorely needs. While his impact on the court in his first year will be limited, he will continue to improve every year, and at worst be a Tony Allen type defender and locker room glue guy on a contending team.
Osby is another one of those hard-working guys that Orlando seemed to have targeted. However, Osby won't see much floor time behind Tobias Harris, Andrew Nicholson, and others.
Key Additions: Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr.
Kudos to the Wizards for not over-thinking this pick and going with their man. Picking Noel could have been tempting, but Porter is more of a "sure thing" that will elevate the Wizards into the playoffs. Porter is a do-everything, low maintenance small forward- in other words, he is a perfect fit for the Wizards. There is nothing flashy about his game, and he will likely never be more than a third option on a contender, but Porter plays smart, solid basketball, much like Kawhi Leonard did for the Spurs this year. Great pick for the Wizards.
Glen Rice Jr. brings a lot of risk with him to Washington. For a franchise that recently cleaned out all the "knuckleheads" on the team and made great efforts to surround John Wall with high-character guys, Rice is a big risk to take. He was kicked out of Georgia Tech for repeatedly violating team rules, and while his off-the-court problems did not resurface during his D-League stint, it is difficult to say that he will not go back to his old ways when living the NBA lifestyle.
If Rice can keep his head straight, however, he can bring much-needed offense to the Washington bench.