So I have put together a recap of the draft and a preview of the upcoming season for the Atlantic Division. Obviously some people may not agree with my take on the draft and the season outlook. Don't take anything personally, just post your thoughts on what you think is right or wrong and how you view the draft and the upcoming season. It took some time to put this together so hopefully everyone enjoys the read.
Team Outlook: The Marauders took a new philosophy into this year's draft in an attempt to put together a better draft then last years team that only retained 2 players by the time the big dance arrived. It looks like that new philosophy was thrown to the curb after the first pick and once again there coach decided to draft freshmen, transfers, and unproven players. Hopefully that strategy will pay off this year. Overall all The Marauders look to put up some big numbers on the score board this year by pounding the glass and living at the FT line with XRM, Brandon Ingram, and Grayson Allen. Grayson Allen looks to build on the stellar final four he had leading Duke to victory over Wisconsin and Michigan St. He should be driving the ball more then almost anyone in the ACC this year and as a result should be living at the FT line. The big question mark comes with the freshmen and DaJuan Coleman who has been plagued his entire career at Syracuse with multiple knee injuries. If Coleman can stay healthy he should put up some great numbers in the center of Jim B. 2-3 zone.
Team Strengths: Points and Rebounding
Team Weaknesses: FT shooting and Defense
Team MVP: XRM
Most Improved Player: Grayson Allen. No Big 3 blocking his playing time. And if I have to say it, NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Draft Grade: B+ (Ingram and Allen are huge risks that may bomb or may bomb the opposing teams in the Atlantic. Allen should explode on to the big stage and shock everyone in the Atlantic and the ACC, except maybe the Marauders coach who witnessed the “ball boy” torch Wisconsin in the championship game and bring Duke back from the brink of extinction).
Team Outlook: The Rum Pirates made a bold move in the draft by returning two players that led them to the biggest upset of the year in the tournament vs the number 2 seed Free Ballers. They should be among the league leaders in points this year and have a stifling defense to protect their court. Brice Johnson and Dwayne Bacon should prove to be their leaders on offense while the old man (Trevor Cooney) will be the play maker on defense. Brice Johnson will once again come into the season with the largest upside from any player in the ACC. He just needs to step up to the plate and dominate like he has in a number of games over his career at UNC. If Dwayne Bacon can live up to the hype (usually only my Dukies can) then the Rum Pirates will make some waves in the Big Tournament this year, if not they may be dancing in the “NIT”. Bacon may take some of the scoring opportunities away from XRM but he is still a freshman and needs to prove on the court that he can handle the hype and ACC defenses. Cooney in my opinion may be the key to the Rum Pirates success this year. Cooney should increase his production across the board because of Malachi Richardson joining Syracuse Cooney’s minutes will be down but he should not be gassed at the end of games and the season.
Team Strengths: Points and Defense
Team Weaknesses: Assists and FT Shooting
Team MVP: Cat Barber
Most Improved Player: Kamari Murphy. Put up some good numbers at OK ST. Should be the X factor for Miami this year.
Draft Grade: A- (Solid players all around with a few risky players. May have the most upside with Dwayne Bacon and Brice Johnson).
Team Outlook: The coach of the Wheats decided to use possibly the best draft strategy of both divisions, give a big middle finger to the other coaches and drafted the top 2 centers on most everyone’s draft board with consecutive picks on the turn. Needless to say, Wheats will be one of the more dominate teams on the boards in the Atlantic with Michael Young and Tonye Jeriki towering over the paint. Surrounding the monsters in the middle will be a perimeter made up of upperclassmen (Adam Smith, Marcus Paige, and London Perrantes). If they were not dangerous enough, Marcus Paige looks to lead the assist parade that Wheats will be looking to ride to clinching a playoff spot. Paige will come into the season with the biggest question mark for the Wheats team. His foot injury has healed over the off season, but it still remains to be seen as to how much the injury actually impacted his game play and stats. Adam Smith has changed teams within the ACC and moved to GT to complete his final year of eligibility. His stats may actually decrease from what he put up at VT, because he will not be able to control the offense and throw up lots of shots like he did last year.
Team Strengths: Rebounding and Assists
Team Weaknesses: Defense
Team MVP: Marcus Paige
Most Improved Player: Marcus Paige. The offseason was kind to Paige, because it allowed his injured foot an extended period of time to heal.
Draft Grade: A- (No risks at all, may prove to be the best lineup though)
Team Outlook: They might be a little too reliant on one player to score this year, but that one player could really score at Drexel. It is Drexel however, Damion Lee better prove early on that he can hang some points on the board against the big boys in the ACC, otherwise the Dragons might be scrambling to find some scorers. Sean Obi might be the biggest risk of either draft, he was taken in the 4th but not taken at all in the Coastal. The Dragons will be looking for a great one-two punch from their big two (Brogdon and Artis) to make up for a lack of offensive production on the inside. Both look to me as they will probably produce about the same as last year, not much has changed with either Pitt or VA to make me think they will bolster their stats this year. Davon Reed may be a big steal, however with McClean, Rodriguez, and Murphy demanding the ball in that offense Reed might be the odd man out. Reed better try and assert himself early in the year if he wants to improve on last year. Their bench looks to be pretty deep with two players taking a huge step up in minutes and responsibility (Kaleb Joseph and V.J. Beachem). Joseph looked to play scared towards the end of last year which resulted in his demotion to the bench and Silent G playing the point. He better come out with some fire in his belly at the beginning of the year or it will be back to the bench for him.
Team Strengths: FT Shooting and Points (Lee better step up)
Team Weaknesses: Assists and Rebounds
Team MVP: Malcolm Brogdon (I don’t think Lee can put up the same numbers he did at Drexel).
Most Improved Player: Jamel Artis. After losing Cam Wright he should be the “go to” guy in Pitt’s offense.
Draft Grade: B- (Obi at PF should say it all)
Team Outlook: After a very disappointing early exit in last year’s big dance, the FreeBallers look to make it to the tourney this year and make the final four. Just like the Dragons, the FreeBallers look a little weak at the center position (tip of the cap to Wheats), but they do have three very solid players in Eli Carter, Silent G, and MGH. Eli Carter has played big time ball prior to his transfer but never really showed any greatness. He might be one of the only scoring options for BC this year so his stats could climb dramatically or BC will be horrid again this year. To bolster their lack of inside play, the FreeBallers took a gamble on the top freshman point guard in the ACC, Derryck Thorton. Thorton will be handed the reigns to Duke’s offense immediately and unless Grayson Allen or Luke Kennard prove to be better he will play big minutes for Duke. Bonzie Colson could very well be the X factor for the FreeBallers. If Colson can show some skills with his big jump in minutes, the FreeBallers might look to redeem themselves in the tourney this year.
Team Strengths: Assists and FT Shooting
Team Weaknesses: Points and Rebounding (man up Colson)
Team MVP: Silent G
Most Improved Player: Bonzie Colson. If he performs every night like he did vs Duke last year then look out for the FreeBallers
Draft Grade: B- (Carter and Colson are just too questionable in their skills to make the grade any higher)
Anyone But KY
Team Outlook: Well for being a newbie to the CEBE their coach sure did fool us all and drafted one of the deepest teams in the Atlantic. D. Jackson and Angel Rodriguez make up an absolutely solid backcourt for ABK. With the big Greek (Mitaglou) and Kennedy Meeks manning the low block ABK should make a solid push to the big dance. Their only obvious weakness appears to be on the glass, Mitaglou sits at the 3 point line on offense and is a “weak” European player that gets pushed around on defense. Look for ABK to keep games close in all aspects of the game and then throw a knockout punch at the end. ABK may have the steal of the draft if Sterling Smith can replicate his stats from his last year of playing before transferring. Lookout for this up and coming team in the Atlantic, they might surprise a lot of people and take one of the coveted spots in the Big Dance this year.
Team Strengths: Assists and Defense
Team Weaknesses: Rebounding
Team MVP: J. Blossomgame
Most Improved Player: Demetrius Jackson. Taking the reigns of ND’s offense after the departure of Jerian Grant should lead to big time play from this guard.
Draft Grade: B+ (Great depth, but no definable star unless Demetrius Jackson wants the job)
Team Outlook: The Fuglys went with a bold pick to start this year’s draft and selected Zach Auguste from ND. This looks to be a great pick for the Fuglys because with the departure of Jerian Grant ND will be looking for someone to become the new star of that team and Auguste looks to be that guy. Steve Vasturia should also increase his stats from last year, because of the loss of Grant. Justin Jackson will look to be the star of this team. Towards the end of last year it appeared that Justin Jackson was starting to find his groove. This year could be his breakout year and he might end up as one of the top players in the ACC. The only problem with Jackson is that UNC is loaded again this year and their will not be enough playing time and points to please everyone on that team. If anyone is gonna increase their play this year on UNC it will almost definitely be Jackson. Bibbs might be the 6th man of the year for VT and for the Fuglys. Before his concussion Bibbs was tearing it up, however, after the concussion Bibbs struggled to return to his early year form. Will he regain his magic or will the star transfer from Maryland, Seth Allen, steal Bibbs‘ thunder.
Team Strengths: FT Shooting and Assists
Team Weaknesses: Points, Defense, and Rebounding
Team MVP: Sheldon McClean
Most Improved Player: Justin Jackson. Things clicked for him at the end of last year and will continue to click for him this year.
Draft Grade: C+ (Not a good draft for the Fuglys. Their weaknesses are among the most concerning of the Atlantic Teams).
Team Outlook: The PS will go as far as CMM will take them. He had a solid year last year and will most likely produce about the same this year. CMM may be the leader of this team, but he should have some help in the scoring column from a couple of transfers (Trey Lewis and Terry Henderson). Both Lewis and Henderson may need some time to learn how to play in the ACC but should adjust quite nicely. By mid-season when the offense starts to click for PS, their defense should still be going strong with Devin Thomas manning the low post. Grantham should jump out to a good start for the PS, but look for Rafael Maia to surpass Grantham in playing time. Maia looks like a beast down low and if he can put up some solid numbers like he did his last year before transferring then the PS might have a chance to defend their regular season title. On paper the PS appear to be primed for an epic year on the defensive side of the ball and that’s with Maia on the bench. Look to be shut down by this team week in and week out.
Team Strengths: Defense, Rebounds, and Assists
Team Weaknesses: FT Shooting
Team MVP: CMM
Most Improved Player: Rafael Maia. He will surprise a lot of people.
Draft Grade: B+ (3 transfers might be too many, maybe not though)