Ranking Carsen Edwards’ Draft Fit On Every NBA Team
Feature image from Purdue Sports
Aah, a tradition unlike any other from your boy on Boiled Sports dot com: I get to merge my NBA nerd-ness with my love for Purdue’s NBA prospects and my obsession with rankings to identify the best Boilermaker fit in the pros.
I did it with the four seniors from Purdue’s 30-win season last year, and while PJ Thompson looks poised to become Future Purdue Head Coach PJ Thompson, the others were drafted and/or signed in free agency. Vincent Edwards found himself drafted by the Houston Rockets, stashed with the G-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and given the current state of wings on that team he might actually get his shot this year after seeing limited minutes last year. Isaac Haas went undrafted, but signed with the Utah Jazz and was seemingly a valuable practice player for Rudy Gobert, bouncing back and forth between the G-League Salt Lake City Stars and the Jazz all year. Dakota Mathias’ undrafted stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t last beyond the summer, and he signed up for an amazing-if-you-think-about-it life playing in Spain until an ankle injury last fall.
I did it with Caleb Swanigan, who ended up with another middle-fit ranked team in the Portland Trailblazers. There was a real path for him to crack the rotation, but they drafted center Zach Collins earlier in the first round and ended up signing/keeping a glut of frontcourt players (Jusuf Nurkic, Noah Vonleh, Ed Davis, Meyers Leonard). At the trade deadline this year, Biggie was traded to the Sacramento Kings, who aren’t quite the joke you might be used to. He bounced back and forth between the Kings bench and the G-League for the second half of the year, but with Marvin Bagley, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Harry Giles’ eventual return, things don’t look great.
I did it with AJ Hammons, who ended up being drafted in the second round by the Dallas Mavericks, a team I ranked right about in the middle of the league for fit. The Mavs did need a young-ish center in their rotation to help ease Dirk into his twilight, but that role was filled by Maxi Kleber and Salah Mejri. AJ ended up being traded to the Heat, got buried behind Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo, and the ageless Udonis Haslem, and was waived in 2018.
The biggest takeaway: the NBA game has continued to shift away from the traditional big (Haas, Swanigan, Hammons), and has never valued three-point shooting as much as it does now.
WHAT A PERFECT TIME FOR BOOGIE TO BE DRAFTED.
I already went through Carsen Edwards’ NBA draft profile, so go there if you’d like to get into the details. But overall, Carsen’s defensive liabilities and short stature are offset by his great wingspan (6’6”, for being barely-6’ tall) and strength, Carsen’s lack of natural playmaking is offset by his unbelievable shooting stroke (he might be the best shooter in this year’s draft), and with seemingly half of the league falling apart because of internal drama Carsen’s calm no-drama personality would be an asset for any locker room.
Scoring Carsen’s fit with each team against that team’s situation:
Let’s dive right into it, shall we?
Despite some of these teams not possessing a pick within Carsen’s #20-#40 pick range, there looks to be a high likelihood that teams will be aggressive in trading picks this summer. So there might be teams coming into draft day without anything in that range, but might see the best shooter on the board still available at pick #32 and trade in (or buy the pick). So I kept my lens wide, and looked at every single team on the board.
Golden State Warriors (Situation: 10, Need/Fit: 8), #28, #41, #58
Even before the devastating injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, and as dumb as this might sound when talking about a team with three of the greatest shooters ever…the Warriors really needed some more shooting. Their backup point guard was still non-shooter Shaun Livingston, Jacob Evans hasn’t been working out (and will probably be shifting to point guard), and they really needed the good minutes Quinn Cook gave them in the finals. Cook will probably become too expensive to keep this summer, and even with Evans on the roster I could see a clear fit both on- and off-the-court for Carsen on the Warriors. Draymond Green is already a Carsen fan, and his ridiculous range would be demoralizing to opponents when Steph is on the bench. As much as we’d all love the fit, and as much opportunity as their might be for playing time on the Warriors next year with all of the injuries, I think they’ll aim for a more versatile wing with the #28 pick. But there is a real possibility here.
Milwaukee Bucks (Situation: 9, Need/Fit: 9), currently no pick
Aah, what could have been. Milwaukee held the 30th overall pick, the last of the first round, and their need for more shooting at the guard position was clear. Malcolm Brogdon might get too expensive for them to keep, especially as they tried to resign Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez to well-paying deals, so Carsen slotting in the minutes George Hill was playing made a ton of sense. Alas, the day before the draft they traded the #30 pick essentially for $14M in cap flexibility, giving them a much higher likelihood that Brogdon and their core sticks together. But if they see Carsen still available in the mid/late 30s, don’t be surprised if they try to trade/buy their way back in.
Indiana Pacers (Situation: 4, Need/Fit: 9), #18 & #50
The dream: my favorite Boilermaker being drafted by my favorite team. Also, this is my annual column so if you think this is a homer pick I implore you to go start your own website and write about your favorite team. But the fit is real – if you watched any Pacers games at all last season, before or after Oladipo’s injury, you would have known that three-point shooting was their greatest need. With Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic and Cory Joseph, their best shooters, likely leaving in free agency, ‘reaching’ for a cheap young shooter at #18 isn’t the craziest idea in a shallow draft like this. Aaron Holiday and Edmond Sumner are both young guards on the roster, so they’ll likely draft a wing or try to package the pick with Domantas Sabonis in a trade, but the hope is alive.
Philadelphia 76ers (Situation: 5, Need/Fit: 8), #24, #33, #34, #42, #54
LONG LIVE THE PROCESS. Of all the teams with the highest need for cheap shooting, Philadelphia stands out as a phenomenal Carsen destination. The Sixers have great defensive pieces (Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid) that can make up for an undersized shooter, a real threat that their current undersized deadeye shooter (JJ Redick) leaves in free agency, and a need for cheap stable bench depth after a year where 26 players logged some kind of minutes in a Sixer jersey. They’ve also got the most picks within Carsen’s range, so there’s a great chance that Boogie gets nabbed by one of these picks…now, whether it’s Philly doing the picking, or if they’ve traded that piece to free up cap room to keep their core, is something we’ll find out during the draft.
Denver Nuggets (Situation: 7, Need/Fit: 5), currently no pick
Denver is a legitimately great team that has a real shot at a Finals berth without the Warriors in their way and with the Rockets exploding, and would be a fun spot to see Carsen thrive. But they’ve already got Carsen-like players on their roster in Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Monte Morris and Will Barton (both very nice Carsen comparisons), and Malik Beasley. While I could very easily see Carsen as insurance for the Nuggets to package one or more of those players in a trade, it’s tough to see them buying their way back into the draft specifically for Edwards.
Dallas Mavericks (Situation: 3, Need/Fit: 8), #37
Boogie needs to play next to a big pass-first point guard with generational playmaking skills and great defensive potential. I’m describing exactly two young players: Ben Simmons and Luka Doncic. Luka and Carsen are a pair made in heaven, and I’d love it if Dallas somehow wound up drafting our guy to take over the JJ Barea role. Trey Burke and Jalen Brunson on the roster do stand in the way of that dream, but Dallas would be a great landing spot (despite coach Rick Carlisle’s typical impatience with young guards).
Toronto Raptors (Situation: 7, Need/Fit: 3), #59
What a year for the champs – trade a beloved homegrown star in Demar DeRozan for a transcendent player with one foot out the door in Kawhi Leonard, only for Kawhi and their depth to capitalize on Durant’s injury and end Golden State’s dynasty…only for it all to still be in flux this summer. If Kawhi stays in Toronto on a short-term deal, the Raps have the inside track to another Finals appearance, but it would be very difficult to see a way Carsen breaks through the backcourt logjam of Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, and Norm Powell. But, listen, Masai Ujiri is the best GM in the NBA, so I will trust every decision in his hands.
Los Angeles Lakers (Situation: 0, Need/Fit: 8), currently no pick
Lebron and Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma and…who knows? I mean, I totally understand the Lakers mortgaging their future to pair two all-time talents and free up $22M+ in cap space, because in the end only one team in the league can pair the GOAT with a 26-year-old MVP-caliber perfect fit big man. The Lakers are prime candidates to try and buy their way back into the early second round, and the shooting Carsen would provide would be tremendous alongside Lebron, AD, and whatever other pieces they cobble together. That being said, the front office and ownership situation is a disaster, and as much as I love Frank Vogel there’s no way he makes it through the season without some amount of turmoil. High-ceiling, high-floor destination for Carsen, but if there’s any rookie I would trust to take huge shots in the playoffs for the league’s marquee franchise…you know who it is.
Miami Heat (Situation: 4, Need/Fit: 4), #13 & #44
The Heat are a middle-tier eastern conference team that can free up cap space this summer with little warning, and you know that’s exactly what Pat Riley wants. They’re also a team that needs three-point shooting alongside Miami’s big-heavy roster and non-shooter Justice Winslow. The Heat could be one team that makes a ton of moves during draft day, and if they end up with one of the Carsen-range picks I could see it as an intriguing fit.
Oklahoma City Thunder (Situation: 2, Need/Fit: 6), #21, #45
Speaking of teams that need cap relief and cheap shooting, woah buddy are the Thunder in need of some new blood this summer. They’ve got functionally the second-highest cap roll behind Golden State (assuming Klay stays), they’ve been dying for reliable bench scoring ever since trading James Harden in 2012, and have one of the best defenses in the league that would easily be able to cover for Boogie’s weakness. If they’re willing to reach a bit, I really love this fit at pick #21.
San Antonio Spurs (Situation: 8, Need/Fit: -1), #29 & #49
Listen, Gregg Popovich is the GOAT basketball coach. There’s no arguing that. But while the Spurs desperately need shooting, I don’t know if he’ll want to deal another guard with Manu Ginobili’s on-court confidence when he’s this close to retirement. Patty Mills, Bryn Forbes, and Dejounte Murray also seemingly fill the role Carsen would thrive within. I love the Spurs and Pop, but San Antonio grabbing the Texas shooter would look beautiful (can you imagine Carsen dressed in black and silver and destroying some fanbase’s dreams as the Spurs inevitably march to the second round?), but might not be Boogie’s best short-term destination.
Houston Rockets (Situation: 4, Need/Fit: 2), currently no pick
THE IMPLOSION CONTINUES. It’s really crazy that, as truly great as they are, Chris Paul and James Harden can’t seem to gel with any of their teammates through the years, and now are seemingly clashing with each other. But while the culture might be a little volatile in Houston, no team has done more to stretch the bounds of an “acceptable 3-pointer” than Houston under Mike D’Antoni. Harden, Eric Gordon, even forward Ryan Anderson regularly launched bombs from several feet behind the three-point line, freeing up space for Harden and Capela to work pick/roll lanes. Who knows what they’ll look like next year, but Carsen fits the Rockets’ offensive philosophy to a T.
New Orleans Pelicans (Situation: -1, Need/Fit: 7), #1, #4, #39, #57
Talk about a team that’s completely reinvented itself. New Orleans, the home of our beloved E’Twaun Moore, went from a joke of a franchise that wasted a transcendent talent to being run by one of the best GMs in the league in David Griffin, having the most transcendent player since Anthony Davis fall into their lap, and having the Lakers so desperate for AD that they gave up everything in their future to move him immediately to purple and gold. The Pelicans are actually a wonderful landing spot for Carsen – they now have two playmaking/defensive point guards in Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball, outside of E’Twaun Moore their backcourt shooting is woeful, Tim Fraizer and Elfrid Payton are free agents, and they’ll be an unbelievably fun and fast team built around Zion Williamson. The low “situation” ranking was really just because I need to see it all on the court before I truly believe it, but another Boilermaker in New Orleans sounds pretty nice.
Boston Celtics (Situation: 6, Need/Fit: -1), #14, #20, #22, #51
As much of an overnight success New Orleans has been, it’s been an overnight disaster for the Boston Celtics. The seeming loss of Kyrie Irving probably means they’ll target a free agent point guard (or bring back Terry Rozier, which, well, good luck with that). Al Horford, the heart of their locker room, has decided to bounce for greener pastures. And while a shooter alongside great defensive pieces in Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown would be interesting, I’m just not sure at all what Boston’s roster will look like this fall. That being said, undersized scoring guards like Isaiah Thomas surrounded by young overachieving talent is a formula that thrives under Brad Stevens, so there’s your silver lining.
Minnesota Timberwolves (Situation: -3, Need/Fit: 8), #11 & #43
All of this Andrew Wiggins stock I bought years ago is basically worth the dust under my couch, and that makes me very sad. The Wolves have an extremely weird roster, and a gunning guard couldn’t hurt. Tyus Jones kind of plays that role, but Karl-Anthony Towns desperately needs as many shooters spacing the floor around him as possible. Here’s another team I could see making a big draft-day move, especially as their trying to maximize KAT’s prime.
Utah Jazz (Situation: 6, Need/Fit: -3), #53
The Jazz just solved their point guard problem by trading for Mike Conley, a wonderful fit next to electric rookie shooting guard Donovan Mitchell (who, according to Twitter, either has all the great attributes of Dwyane Wade, or all the bad qualities of Dion Waiters). This team is poised to make a deep run this year, and could make a Toronto-like leap to the Finals in a wide-open Western conference. The fit for Carsen might be a little more open, how that Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver, and Grayson Allen have been shipped to Memphis, but I’m still a little skeptical that this is one of his better landing spots. That being said, I desperately want to see Carsen on a team making a deep 2020 playoff run.
Detroit Pistons (Situation: -2, Need/Fit: 3), #15, #30, #45
Detroit functionally paid $14M for Milwaukee’s #30 pick, which is bizarre timing for this type of a deal as the Pistons have no clue who will be available when that pick comes around. But Detroit might be stockpiling picks for a secondary deal, as they need to pair as much talent as they can alongside Blake Griffin and man do they not have much of that, you know, talent. It might be hard for him to crack the rotation next year, but Carsen would be a smart long-term pick for Detroit. But who has ever accused the Pistons of making smart moves?
Memphis Grizzlies (Situation: -5, Need/Fit: 6), #2 & #23
Like Oklahoma City, Memphis has been looking for reliable shooting for the better part of a decade. Ja Morant will certainly be the #2 pick, and an extremely young team built around the pick and roll/pop tandem of Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr would be a really fun place for Boogie to space the floor. They’ll also be in prime position to give young players as much runway as possible, so it would be a really interesting landing spot at #23.
Portland Trail Blazers (Situation: 2, Need/Fit: -2), #25
I really, truly love this Blazers team. I have no idea if they can make it far in the playoffs, but Damian Lillard is exactly a 4-inches-taller version of Carsen, CJ McCollum is a fun backcourt running mate with boundless energy, and they’re surrounded by wings that have no shooting ability but defensive bonafides that cover-up defensive weaknesses. Basically, they’ve already filled Carsen’s role using the best players possible as starters, and while they’re losing backup in Seth Curry I don’t know if using #25 on Boogie would be the best use of their only pick. (But man would watching Dame and Carsen gun on the same team be a dream come true.)
Los Angeles Clippers (Situation: 3, Need/Fit: -4), #48 & #56
The Clippers were a plucky 8 seed last season, have no superstars, and have one of the best odds to win the 2020 NBA championship. If that doesn’t tell you everything about how nuts this offseason could be, I don’t know what can. The Clippers rode extremely productive years from veterans Lou Williams (a common Carsen comparison, though I’m skeptical) and Patrick Beverley and Danilo Gallinari, alongside the emergence of the yooths Shai-Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet to a really fun season and really deep team. They’ve got enough cap room to sign two max players this summer, and have been at the center of every Kawhi rumor for the past two years (and the Al Horford thing is gaining steam too). While the situation might be promising either way, the fit behind all those young guards wouldn’t be great for Carsen.
Orlando Magic (Situation: -2, Need/Fit: 1), #16 & #46
Even for a League Pass nerd like myself, the Magic are way too bland of a team to have any strong thoughts whatsoever about. Sure, take a swing on Markelle Fultz. Their length is fun on paper, I guess. Yeah, Nikola Vucevic had a really fun, borderline All-Star caliber year, but it’s Vuc, who really cares? Aaron Gordon would be awesome as a third wheel on a winning team like Portland or Utah, but is wasted in a situation like Orlando. And sure, Carsen would be fine on the Magic, they desperately need some sort of excitement in the backcourt, but he’d be lost to the depths of League Pass for years.
Brooklyn Nets (Situation: 1, Need/Fit: -5), #27 & #31
Brooklyn has made their way to the other side of that disastrous trade with the Celtics, and their future looks promising. Odds are great the Kyrie Irving will take D’Angelo Russell’s spot, they’ve got too many fun young wings and bigs to count, they have a very fun offensive system under Kenny Atkinson, and have room to add another max guy alongside Kyrie (Jimmy Butler, maybe?). But with either Kyrie or Russell, plus Shabazz Napier, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, and others logging backcourt minutes, Carsen would be hard-pressed to find minutes in any rotation here.
Atlanta Hawks (Situation: 1, Need/Fit: -6), #8, #10, #17, #35
Here’s another fun, very young team doing a great job of rebuilding through the draft. The Hawks are also another team to watch make moves during draft day, cashing a lot of these early picks in to fill wing holes around Trey Young and John Collins. Carsen is a young gunner that would be an interesting piece off the bench, but his fit with Young isn’t that great.
Sacramento Kings (Situation: -1, Need/Fit: -4), #40, #47, #60
I like so many individual players on the Kings – De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Yogi Ferrell, Marvin Bagley, Harry Giles, BIGGIE SWANIGAN – and am pretty confident they have a surprisingly bright future, considering the weird ownership and GM track record over the past few years. But with Fox and Buddy entrenched in the back court, the Kings need to stockpile long 3-and-D wings. Carsen probably won’t be a target here, but the Kangz know how to surprise.
New York Knicks (Situation: -8, Need/Fit: 2), #3 & #55
I don’t know why it’s so funny to me that the two picks the hapless Knicks have are at very beginning (but just outside of the two sure-fire picks of the draft), and at the extreme end of the second round. And right when it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the best player in his prime would be riding in to save Madison Square Garden, Durant tears his Achilles and will be out for a year. Even if he signs, the likelihood that Carsen fits with the young guards Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith are slim, and the chances the Knicks would see the value in another late first/early second round pick is even more difficult to imagine.
Charlotte Hornets (Situation: -6, Need/Fit: -1), #12, #36, #52
I wanted so much better for Kemba Walker’s career than this bottom-feeder of a team, but outside their cool jerseys it’s difficult to get more irrelevant than the Hornets. And while they do need a dynamic scoring guard, they’ve invested significant draft capital in Malik Monk, and are going to try and bring Kemba back. They need a taller wing that can shoot, and Carsen doesn’t fit that mold.
Washington Wizards (Situation: -8, Need/Fit: -2), #9
Washington has made a series of disastrous decisions that have led them to NBA purgatory, built around a star too good to tank with (Bradley Beal) but desperately need to hit the reset button. I wouldn’t be shocked if their new GM (whoever that ends up being) trades Beal to the highest bidder and tries to pawn off John Wall’s ungodly contract to some innocent team (is that Orlando’s music?). Could they use Carsen? Sure, but the infrastructure in Washington is so cracked that I’d be terrified for Boogie’s long-term career.
Phoenix Suns (Situation: -6, Need/Fit: -7), #6 & #32
Phoenix is a prime example of a perennially-tanking team that hasn’t invested in scouting, development, or training staffs to make something out of all that draft capital. They have two legitimate pieces to build around in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, and are in a city that everyone seems to love, but one of the worst owners in the league will undoubtedly continue to drive that team into the ground. if they grab Carsen at #32…at least he’ll be in a nice warm-weather city, I guess.
Chicago Bulls (Situation: -9, Need/Fit: -5), #7 & #38
The Bulls traded Jimmy Butler for a flyer on Kris Dunn as their point guard of the future (busted on that one), Zach LaVine (a hyper-athletic gunner who doesn’t have the shooting percentages to justify gunning) and drafted Lauri Markkanen (a real piece to build around). But their owner is more concerned with the White Sox minor league prospects, their GM tandem Gar Forman and John Paxson have unlimited runway despite making very few good decisions, and while Wendell Carter is another nice frontcourt piece they desperately need some guard/wing as a complement. If Carsen is drafted to Chicago, at least he’ll get to wear that undoubtedly-cool cursive red Bulls jersey.
Cleveland Cavaliers (Situation: -10, Need/Fit: -9), #5 & #26
Hiring John Beilein is a good first step to improve the franchise culture, but when you have an owner that’s never extended the contract of a GM you’re bound for constant turmoil. This roster looked a lot better when Superman LeBron was dragging them to the finals. Please, basketball Gods, not Cleveland.