The adage is that teams should always pick the best player available in the NBA Draft. In practice, it doesn't happen. Teams have needs, and it's natural to want to fill them. The draft is a great place to do so. Given that not all positions are created equally in the NBA -- it's better to have an elite center or point guard than an equally talented wing or forward -- the need issue crops up even more frequently with giants and PGs.
So when odd things happen to the supply of prospects in one of those positions, you create a domino effect down the draft that mucks everything up.
We could be facing such an issue with point guards in 2014. Dante Exum will go in the top five, as has long been expected. But what of Marcus Smart, who could have been No. 2 a year ago and instead isn't actually a lottery certainty in 2014? And what of Elfrid Payton, the draft's most scorching riser after workouts and deeper evaluation?
It appears now Smart could be picked shortly after Exum, per Adrian Wojnarowski.
Marcus Smart is emerging as serious consideration for Utah with fifth pick, league sources tell Yahoo. Smart didn't workout for Jazz.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2014
This is a case of a team that doesn't need a point guard taking one they feel a) is the best player on the board and b) can play with the incumbent, Trey Burke.
Smart going so high means that the myriad teams who'd love to land a top point guard prospect have one fewer choice. Which brings us to Payton.
My guess: If Gordon falls to eight, he's a King. If not, McDermott, Payton are a couple of top options. All 3 address a need.— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) June 26, 2014
He could go No. 8 to Sacramento. He only recently became a lottery contender. And if he goes as high as No. 8, that puts a premium on the other point guards expected to go in the first round, like Tyler Ennis and even Shabazz Napier, who is now looking like a low-key late-lottery threat. Russ Smith or Jahii Carson could get into the first round!
But these dominoes only really fall if Smart goes high and Payton truly has dashed up draft boards. It could be someone like Clint Capella going in the lottery, or Jusuf Nurkic sneaking into the top half of the lotto that could set off a mad rush on centers. But for the PGs, Smart and Payton should determine how long guys like Ennis and Napier last.