The NBA draft is 90% anticipation, 10% the actual draft. We breathlessly pore over every single trade rumor, wait for seer-like prophecies from our trusted sources on NBA twitter, and hope our team doesn’t do something truly insane (like trade two first-round picks for Andrea Bargnani, but I digress). Tonight’s draft is no exception—as we reach a fever pitch of speculation at this very moment, by tomorrow the NBA landscape will be much clearer, with some teams having picked up a player that will chart their course towards a championship, or done something so ridiculously boneheaded as to condemn their fans to a summer of deep introspection. Here are five things to look for tonight in the Barclays Center, where the only thing we’re sure of is that nobody will actually be playing basketball.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns will make the Timberwolves a very lucky team indeed.
Karl-Anthony Towns might be a once-in-a-generation player. There’s one current NBA star he keeps get compared to, and that’s Tim Duncan (he of fifteen years of unrelenting greatness). The Timberwolves, already loaded with a number of great young players, including reigning Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, have recovered nicely from last year’s Kevin Love melodrama. With Kevin Garnett there to teach Towns a thing or two about the NBA, look for the Timberwolves to be in the playoff picture within three years.
2. The Celtics will make a move.
The Celtics have been loading up on assets for the past two seasons, fielding a young, talented team while also keeping their sights firmly on a few seasons down the line before they move back into serious championship contention. With Rajon Rondo gone, the Celtics are ready to fill the void of leader and star player. If JahlilOkafor falls to the three pick, expect the Celtics to be willing to cash in all those assets on the future superstar, whose demeanor and talent fit nicely with the Celtics, who already have their coach of the future in Brad Stevens.
3. The DeMarcus Cousins debacle will not be settled by night’s end.
What a mess the Kings have made for themselves. Instead of showing any goodwill towards their incredibly talented young star, they’ve made very public their intentions to trade him. One problem—they haven’t done it yet, and teams might be inclined to drag this out, watching the Kings squirm and lower their asking price as the summer continues. The worst-case scenario will be Cousins coming to training camp, and by that time they might be willing to trade him for a back-up shooting guard who looks good in purple.
4. The Knicks will somehow further infuriate their fans.
Phil Jackson has spent all week speaking riddles, either preparing for a huge draft night or simply having no idea what to do and just happy to collect his enormous payday from James Dolan. The Knicks haven’t drafted a great player since Patrick Ewing, and the booing of the draft pick by the hometown crowd is an annual tradition (for years the Knicks actually have held on to their draft pick). Either the Knicks will anger fans by pulling off a crazy trade that makes no sense, or they will pick someone like Frank Kaminsky, and unleash a veritable torrent of jeering.
5. The Sixers will end up with even more second round draft picks.
The Sixers under GM Sam Hinkie have been hoarding second-round draft picks as if they’re redeemable for a giant stuffed Rastafarian banana. Expect them to end up with even less players this evening and even more second round picks.
Of course, all of these things or none of these things could happen (except the Wolves are definitely drafting Towns) and that's what makes the draft so much fun! Follow Maxim on Twitter for live updates from the draft all night long.
Photos by Adam Creech/ Associated Press