Cleveland Cavaliers: Isaac Okoro will contend for NBA Rookie of the Year
Okoro wasn’t the sexiest prospect in this draft class, but he fits a perfect need for the Cavaliers. They desperately needed to add a wing defender who doesn’t need the ball on the offensive end.
The former Auburn star fits that description perfectly. He won’t put up massive numbers, but he’ll win a lot of admirers around the league for his selfless play. He will contend, but not win the Rookie of the Year Award as a result.
Dallas Mavericks: James Johnson emerges as a key rotation piece
Johnson was largely dead salary for the Mavericks when they acquired him. He’s actually a great fit for what they needed to add to their frontcourt. Rick Carlisle will find a way to make his toughness and athleticism work as a key cog off the Mavs’ bench.
Denver Nuggets: RJ Hampton will spend the whole season in the G-League
The Nuggets have the exceptional depth required to take big swings on projects in the first round of the draft. That’s why they elected to draft Hampton despite the reality that he’s nowhere near ready to play important minutes for a playoff team.
He’s so far away from being ready that Denver will leave him in the G-League for the full season. Hampton might not play a single minute in the NBA this year. That would actually be good for his development as a prospect.
Detroit Pistons: Derrick Rose will be dealt for a first-round pick
Detroit spent a first-round pick on Killian Hayes to become their point guard of the future. Before too long, he’ll morph into their lead guard of the present. That will make Rose expendable.
The upside for the Pistons is that Rose will play well enough early to be considered a difference-maker for mid-tier playoff teams. One of those teams will spend a first-rounder to bring the former MVP into the fold.
Golden State Warriors: Kent Bazemore will outplay Kelly Oubre
Oubre is a talented player, but he’s not the perfect wing to fit alongside Stephen Curry in the Warriors’ starting lineup. As the season rolls along, Bazemore is going to steal important minutes away from Oubre.
That doesn’t mean Bazemore will become a star, but he’s going to finish more games down the stretch than Oubre. That’s a big upset considering the salary disparity between the two wings.