The 2015 NBA Draft took place on Thursday, June 25th in Brooklyn, NY. There was a ton of anticipation surrounding this year’s draft, and just like that, it’s now in the rearview mirror.
This year, the basketball world saw its fair share of intriguing storylines play out over the course of the NBA Draft. Some of the stories were good, as some players defied the odds and heard their names called.
Others were not so good, including a steady fall from grace from a once highly-touted recruit that carried him from a projected lottery selection before 2014-15 started to undrafted and looking for work.
With the draft now in the past, we took a look at some of the more intriguing stories of the 2015 NBA Draft.
Wyoming’s Larry Nance, Jr Selected 27th by the Lakers
Back in 2013-14, Larry Nance, Jr tore his ACL, causing him to miss Wyoming’s last nine games of the season. At the time of the injury, the Cowboys were a top contender in the Mountain West, and a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament. After the injury, Wyoming won only one more game, and didn’t appear in any post-season action.
Fast forward to the 2014-15 season, and it’s clear to see what a healthy Nance meant to Wyoming. The Cowboys ended up winning the Mountain West tournament as the 4-seed, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Overall, the Cowboys finished with a 25 – 10 record.
However, there were still lingering questions about Nance’s health, and the stability of his torn ACL. He impressed teams with his athleticism in pre-draft workouts, and steadily moved his way up draft boards everywhere.
His hard work culminated in a first-round draft selection by the Los Angeles Lakers at 27. The draft position isn’t the interesting part of Nance’s draft selection. Rather, it’s the team he was drafted by.
Nance sent a tweet out in 2012 that referenced Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault case from back in 2003. Within minutes of being drafted, Nance deleted the tweet, but it’s since gone viral across the sporting world.
Now, these two are grown men, and I’m sure they’ll be able to put their differences aside. The fact that Nance tore his ACL just two seasons ago, and worked his way back to becoming a first-round selection is nothing short of impressive.
Kansas’ Cliff Alexander Goes Undrafted
In the Class of 2014, Cliff Alexander was the third-ranked recruit in the entire class. He was rated 97 overall, along with Myles Turner, Tyus Jones, Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, and others. Alexander was projected to be a lottery selection, and one of the best players in the NCAA this past season, but that was definitely not the case.
Alexander chose to play at Kansas over the likes of DePaul, Illinois, Memphis, and Michigan State, and he looked like a player who could be an impact player right from the outset for Bill self and the Jayhawks. He made an impact, but the impact was felt more in terms of the amount of water he drank on the bench as opposed to on-court production.
Night after night, Alexander found himself coming off the bench in Bill Self’s offense. He only played an average of 17.6 minutes per contest, averaging a mere 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Not the type of production you’d expect from a five-star prospect.
Coming off the bench was just the start of his downward spiral. In the latter parts of the 2014-15 season, Alexander was the subject of an NCAA investigation that surrounded his eligibility. With the looming investigation, Alexander didn’t appear in the Jayhawks last 8 games, which included their 2 games in the NCAA Tournament.
He opted to leave school after one year and head for the NBA Draft, a decision that was the subject of debate all across the sporting world. He was hoping that his potential and hype would land him a draft selection, and most thought he could still hear his name called in the first round.
The first round ticked away, and no Cliff Alexander. After the first 30 selections, Cliff Alexander was still available.
As the second round moved along, pick after pick, nobody was taking the flyers on Alexander. The draft moved along, and in the end, Cliff Alexander’s downward spiral hit rock bottom. He went from a projected lottery pick to an undrafted free agent in just one year.
The fall from grace that Cliff Alexander had to endure will go down as one of the more shocking ones in recent memory. He will have to turn his attention to summer workouts and the Summer League to try and impress a team and get them to take a chance on him.
The Philadelphia 76ers Continue to Draft Forwards
It’s hard to make tanking more obvious than the Philadelphia 76ers have been doing recently.
The Sixers already have talented big men on their roster, in Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. The last thing they needed with the 3rd overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft was to select another forward.
When their two top targets, Towns and Russell, were selected 1 – 2, the Sixers went back to what they do best, and that’s drafting forwards.
Philadelphia drafted four (4!) power forwards or centers out of their 6 selections. They had other holes that needed to be filled, but they opted to choose big men time and time again. Mind you, they were able to flip Guillermo Hernangomez (35th overall) to the Knicks for two future second-round picks, but the fact that they continue to draft players they don’t need is head-scratching.
The big men they drafted are all very talented, but they simply don’t fit the needs of the team at this point in time.
As social media has been saying, Sixers fans need to “trust the process”, mocking Sam Hinkle in the process. At this rate, the rebuild of the Sixers will never end.
The 2015 NBA Draft is behind us, and now it’s time to turn our attention to the 2015-16 NCAA basketball season. The above three story lines are the ones that caught our eye over the course of the night.
Have any other stories that you found intriguing? Comment below and let us know what you thought of the draft!