The 2018 NBA Draft claimed two USC Trojans, Chimezie Metu went to San Antonio and De’Anthony Melton headed to Houston. Following the draft, Indiana snagged Elijah Stewart, while Jordan McLaughlin is joining Brooklyn for Summer League. But who is in the best spot to contribute immediately?
1). Melton to the Houston Rockets
Houston loves to rotate defensive guards who play out on the perimeter: The perfect spot for Melton. Chris Paul will require limited regular season games (if he does return to the Rockets) in an effort to save himself for the playoffs.
That leaves the bulk of the load with just Eric Gordon and Gerald Green, leaving minutes on the table for Melton. Melton is a big guard who can lock up in man to man defense and is comfortable in a catch-and-shoot role. Melton also plays with one of the best roster managers in head coach Mike D’Antoni, a coach who will give the rookie a chance early.
2). Stewart to the Indiana Pacers
The Pacers have built a roster of long forwards around the playmaking of Victor Oladipo. Oladipo plays the role of shooting guard leaving Lance Stephenson the one real shooting guard on the roster.
If Stewart can prove himself worthy of minutes, his length and 3-point shooting off passing is a real asset for the Pacers. The road from undrafted to getting NBA minutes is a long one, but there room on the Pacers for someone with Stewarts talent set. His wing help could get Stewart playing time on the second unit.
3). Metu to the San Antonio Spurs
Filling out the forward spot was a must for San Antonio since Kawhi Leonard’s departure is all but locked in. After adding a nice backcourt piece in Lonnie Walker IV, they grabbed support for their frontcourt. Metu’s grand ceiling could be a smaller version of Rockets center - Clint Capela; a big who can play out on the edge (defense or offense) and streak back to the rim.
Danny Green, Walker, Patty Mills and Dejounte Murray are great frontcourt pieces. Metu helps round out the roster, especially with 38-year-old Pau Gasol the primary option in the paint after LaMarcus Aldridge.
The star USC forward gives the Spurs important depth as they try and make a shift from the Leonard era.
4). McLaughlin to the Brooklyn Nets
McLaughlin’s fight to make the Jay-Z Nets will be a long one. The return of Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell from injury made point guard a crowded spot. Spencer Dinwiddie’s stalwart success last season only complicates the matter of playing time. It makes for a gritty road McLaughlin must trek this Summer League if he hopes to make the Nets roster.
But the California product has fantastic playmaking ability that can translate to the NBA. He is an efficient scorer who uses his drives to the rim as opportunities to free shooters. McLaughlin’s ability to glide through a defense gave Stewart and Bennie Boatwright great looks all season on the way to 7.5 assists per game at USC last year. If he can claw onto the back end of Brooklyn’s roster, he could be a great fourth point guard.