#IMHO: Draft (and Draft fashion) reactions! Plus, Russ to the Lake Show?

#IMHO: Draft (and Draft fashion) reactions! Plus, Russ to the Lake Show?

Grind City Media’s Lang Whitaker and Kelcey Wright Johnson weigh in on the most pertinent news from around the NBA. What’s lit? What’s lame? Find out each week right here.

From: Lang Whitaker

Sent: Monday, July 26, 2021 9:57 AM

To: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Subject: IMHO


Is it just me, or are things a little drafty this week here in IMHO land? That’s right, the NBA Draft is just days away, and with the NBA regular season finally over, it felt like this weekend the rumor mill finally caught up with everything else. Was I the only one checking HoopsHype all weekend? Names and picks and everything else started flying, and I think it’s going to be a similar ride up until the draft later this week.

I don’t watch much college basketball during the regular season – I’m up to my neck in the NBA, and it doesn’t leave a lot of time for much else. I also don’t really watch much college hoops because it’s not as good as the NBA. Let’s be honest here, most of these players aren’t good enough to make it in the NBA, and there’s a reason for that. So I’d rather just watch the best players in the world do their thing, while the college kids establish themselves and their pecking order. I do, however, usually watch the NCAA Tournament, so for the teams that make the Final Four, I usually have a pretty good grip on those guys. Everyone else? Eh.

But I know you have been putting in the work! On your podcast you’ve been interviewing journalists who cover teams with lottery selections, so you’ve heard a LOT of names and rumors and intel. So share them with us! Based on your research, Kelcey, who do you think will be the first five players drafted later this week in the NBA Draft?

From: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Sent: Wednesday, July 28, 2021 10:00 PM

To: Lang Whitaker

Subject: Re: IMHO

Phew! You said it – this has been almost an entire month that I’ve dedicated to strictly draft coverage and let me tell you; a month ago when I started, the top ten looked a lot different than it does now.

It’s always crazy to me how some players can drop and some can gain stock with their predraft workouts and interviews. For example, at the start of the month Jalen Johnson had these massive red flags about his attitude and commitment issues after leaving Duke midway through the season and it seemed like no team wanted to touch him. But after his workouts and a few interviews, and a couple thoughtful answers regarding those issues — he has shot right back up the draft boards and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a top 10 pick (if not, for sure a top 15).

The opposite has happened for Baylor’s Davion Mitchell. At the start of all this draft talk, he was projected to go top 10. On the Grind City Media mock draft, he’s drafted to Golden State with the seventh overall pick. Now, I don’t think he has anything to worry about actually expected to be drafted around 14th now…and that’s still Golden State. No love lost there.

As for my top 5 prediction…drum roll, please…

Cade Cunningham to Detroit; this one is kind of a no-brainer. Cade is a franchise-changing player and Detroit desperately needs help.

Jalen Green to Houston; Green can flat-out score. He is a true offensive threat with a bag of tricks up his sleeve that can immediately help the Rockets score.

Evan Mobley to Cleveland; Cavs back-court is young and great (Sexton cannot be beat haha) so the obvious choice here is the 7-footer from USC. He’s the most talented big man in the draft.

Jalen Suggs to the Raptors; Toronto has a lot of balls up in the air so they need to take the most talented player on the board and worry about fit after free agency. Will Lowry come back? Who knows…if he doesn’t, Suggs would be a great fit next to VanVleet in the back court.

Those top four are easy…it’s the fifth pick that gets a little dicey. If you look at 100 mock drafts right now, you will see 99 different picks at the 5th spot. Ok, that’s a major hyperbole…but you will see maybe 4 different picks!

Scottie Barnes, Johnathan Kuminga, James Bouknight and maybe Moses Moody?

Orlando has the fifth pick and they desperately need shooting on their roster which makes me want to eliminate Scottie Barnes from the table although he is probably the most talented two-way player on the board the fifth spot. Kuminga would be the second-best talent on the board, but again, I don’t know if he necessarily fits with what Orlando needs. He may, he may not. His defensive efforts may outweigh his lack of shooting.

But then again, it all depends if Orlando wants to fill a hole they have on the wing, or if they draft the most talented athlete and build the roster around that. OR DO THEY MAKE A CRAZY TRADE TOMORROW NIGHT AND SWITCH IT ALL UP? They’ve got two top-ten picks…they could maybe make something work.

So exciting. I’m sending you this email on Wednesday night, which means it is less than 24 hours before we find out what all happens. And then…free agency begins.

Give me your craziest, wildest free agency prediction. What’s one move that you think may happen that will shock the league?!

Cade Cunningham drafted by the Detroit Pistons

From: Lang Whitaker

Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2021 9:03 PM

To: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Subject: Re: IMHO

I don’t think there will be any huge surprises in free agency. Because we already had a big surprise tonight, with the Lakers trading for Russell Westbrook! Wow! According to multiple reports, the Lakers are getting Russell Westbrook and two second round picks, in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell. Considering the haul the Rockets got for Harden and the Pelicans got for Jrue Holiday, the Lakers getting a guy who led the NBA in assists per game (by a wide margin) for this collection feels like a good haul.

ANYWAY, I waited almost 24 hours to write you back because I wanted to see what would happen in the Draft, and it was as interesting as ever. For all the mock drafts and comps and lists, we could throw them out the window once we got to about the fourth pick, when the Raptors surprised everyone by drafting Scottie Barnes from Florida State.

After that, there were a lot of picks where it comes down to fit and franchise. I liked Davion Mitchell in college, but did not expect he would go to a team with a young, dynamic backcourt already in place. Did anyone have Josh Giddey going sixth overall?

And if we’re talking surprises, I didn’t see any mock drafts that had our Grizzlies taking Ziaire Williams out of Stanford. I remembered him from his high school career, when he was playing with Bronny and them, but kinda lost sight of him during his lone season in the Pac 12. His highlight reel was amazing. Will that translate to the next level? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Kelcey, give me your biggest surprises in the first round.

Russell Westbrook

From: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2021 9:41 PM

To: Lang Whitaker

Subject: Re: IMHO

You nailed it – Scottie Barnes was the first big surprise in the first round but I like that fit with the Raptors, even if it means Siakam is most likely looking for a new home for the first time in his career.

Some other things I just didn’t expect was Josh Primo. I covered him in high school and he was good (not great) and he had an alright season at Alabama this year (but not great) and he was drafted 12th?! Sheesh. A real “shout out Canada” moment, as Pete Pranica always says.

That’s probably the biggest surprise pick of the first round. As for players dropping, I was surprised Davion Mitchell, Moses Moody and Jalen Johnson stayed off the board for as long as they did.

What I thought was the most special surprise was the tribute draft the NBA help for Terrence Clark — a young man who played at Kentucky last year who tragically passed away in a car accident just a few months ago. I thought that was a really special moment for him, his family, and the entire basketball community as they continue to mourn that loss during a draft night that he most likely would have been a part of. I obviously bawled my eyes out.

But let me ask you, Lang, while we’re watching the draft tonight…as a man who used to work at GQ…give me your top 5 suits of this year’s NBA Draft (if you don’t have Jalen Green on there, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to trust you ever again).

Scottie Barnes drafted by Toronto

From: Lang Whitaker

Sent: Friday, July 30, 2021 9:03 AM

To: Kelcey Wright Johnson

Subject: Re: IMHO

Yes, Kelcey, I was GQ’s NBA writer for a few years there. But let’s be clear: I had nothing to do with the fashion coverage, nor was I asked to contribute to the fashion coverage. And I am fine with that! I stayed in my lane, with my jeans and polo shirts and cool sneakers. High fashion is generally not made for men who wear XXL stuff.

That being said, I did pick up a thing or two along the way, so I feel like I can weigh in on this. More than anything, I think just feeling (and looking) confident in what you’re wearing is half the battle. As the GOAT Deion Sanders once said, “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. And if you play good, they pay good.”

I agree that Jalen Green was the best-dressed player there last night. Would I wear a bell-bottom suit with glitter and stripes? No, I would not. But Jalen Green did and he made it look cool. I liked Jonathan Kuminga’s orange suit, even if the cut seemed a little off, and I loved the braids with matching beads. And as much as I liked Ziaire Williams’ slim-cut suit, his Dad’s fedora was one of the highlights of the evening for me. And Josh Giddey seemed to be trying to be the Timothee Chalamet of the Draft.

Oh and don’t look now, Kelcey, but free agency is starting in 3, 2…

See ya next week!

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