The 2017 PBA Draft was held last Sunday with Fil-German Gilas standout Christian Standhardinger being picked first overall by the San Miguel Beermen, by way of Kia.
With the draft done, it’s time to dish out post-draft grades to the PBA squads. I’m basing this on how the teams made the most out of the draft given the luxury (or lack of) they have and how well they selected players given their respective needs, basketball/system-wise. Let’s go.
San Miguel Beermen: A
Notable picks: Christian Standhardinger, Louie Vigil
The Beermen traded Jay-R Reyes, Ronald Tubid, RaShawn McCarthy, and a future pick for Standhardinger’s rights, and really, that alone means they’ve won this draft big-time. When you’re the best team in the league and you ended up getting the top pick, that is just ridiculous.
They already have the most dominant big in the PBA in reigning four-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo. Standhardinger is someone who could arguably hold his ground against him one-on-one. But now that he’s on the same team with June Mar? Good luck.
Coach Leo Austria can do a lot with Standhardinger in tow. He can play him and Fajardo which he said he intends to do so. Standhardinger can then play the center spot and join the bench line-up, ensuring the Beermen’s bench of a solid option.
Playing their starters big minutes has always been San Miguel’s issue last year; Austria has been criticized for that, but with Standhardinger now part of the roster, Fajardo is bound to get more rest, which means Austria will also have to shuffle the rest of his on-court unit, which will keep key rotation players fresh.
NLEX Road Warriors: A-
Notable picks: Kiefer Ravena, John Grospe, Gab Dagangon, Felix Apreku
To be honest, if Standhardinger was available, the Road Warriors should have went with him hands down to get a big who can do the dirty work and provide offense inside the paint to complement coach Yeng Guiao’s spacious offensive system (Also, Asi Taulava successor).
Since he was picked first, it was only necessary to select Ravena; when you think of Ravena’s ability and the prior experience he had before joining the draft, you’d easily make the choice. Guiao referred to him as a veteran rookie, and though there is now a logjam in the backcourt positions, Guiao said he has no problem with his coachability and that he fits the system.
Obviously, Ravena knows the dribble-drive. He is such a crafty finisher and a top-notch playmaker. Jump-shooting might be a question mark but Guiao has designated shooters. Eventually, Jonas Villanueva will have to defer to younger guards. Besides, the NLEX management might want to deal some of their other guards for young forwards or another big.
Basketball-wise, Grospe and Dagangon fortifies NLEX’s wings. But they can also be assets should the Road Warriors want to tweak their roster. That being said, NLEX made the most out of this year’s draft.
Blackwater Elite: B+
Notable picks: Raymar Jose, Renz Palma, Biboy Enguio, Kyle Neypes
I like what Blackwater did because the team has a slew of scorers and the last thing they wanted is to draft high-usage guys.
Jose will be an amazing complementary piece to scorers like Mike DiGregorio and Allein Maliksi. He doesn’t demand the ball too often, moves well without the ball, defends, and rebounds. With the attention defenses will give to others, Jose will surely get his baskets. The same goes with Palma, who is an energy guy.
Blackwater is coming off their best conference yet, and this draft is another step in the right direction. Well done, Elite.
Phoenix Fuel Masters: A
Notable picks: Jason Perkins, Sidney Onwubere, Dan Sara
If last season was any indication, the Fuel Masters are looking to be even more competitive next year. They traded for veterans like RJ Jazul and Jeff Chan. JC Intal added wrinkles to his game. The team added depth to their bench.
In the draft, Phoenix had very sensible picks. In Perkins, they get another stretch four. Perkins himself said he is already training to be able to play the three spot a little bit more, which is a welcome development. Eventually, he will be playing a Willie Wilsom-esque role while Onwubere may be a decent off-the-bench option.
The Fuel Masters small-balled their way last season given the deficiencies they had in their roster. Expect that to continue next season under new head coach Louie Alas. The only difference now is that they have gotten deeper and more talented.
Alaska Aces: B
Notable picks: Jeron Teng, Davon Potts
The Aces wasted no time replacing Tony Dela Cruz and Dondon Hontiveros with Teng and Potts, their only two selections on draft day.
Teng is an interesting choice to make given the similarities in his and Calvin Abueva’s games. But Abueva getting more help will be an advantage for the Aces.
Losing two wing men last year is no joke, and coach Alex Compton will have a bit more versatility in his line-up next season. He can go small with Abueva at the four alongside Teng. Or Teng may play the point while surrounding them with floor-spacers.
Potts needs improvement defensively, but given his ability as a spot-up shooter, Alaska is an ideal spot because the Aces will probably need him to get baskets in stretches.
Globalport Batang Pier: B
Notable picks: Robbie Herndon, Andreas Cahilig, Zach Nichols
For as long as Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle are with the Batang Pier, the team will continue to build their team around those two premier guards.
Thus, the Herndon selection gives the Batang Pier a swingman who can shoot and someone who is also strong enough defend in the perimeter and rebound.
In Cahilig, the Batang Pier added more youth to their frontcourt rotation. At one point, the Batang Pier’s frontcourt had Billy Mamaril, Rico Maierhofer, Mark Isip, and Mick Pennisi. They have Bradwyn Guinto, Sean Anthony, and now Cahilig. Globalport took advantage when Cahilig fell to 24th overall, pouncing on the opportunity.
Rain or Shine Elasto Painters: A-
Notable picks: Rey Nambatac, Jom Sollano
Nambatac as a middle first-rounder of a not-so deep draft class was a solid choice by the Elasto Painters. Not only is he familiar with coach Caloy Garcia who handled Letran in the past, but Nambatac can offer a lot on both ends of the perimeter. And when you’re an Elasto Painter, it’s only vital to be a two-way player.
Sollano at 19th overall might be a steal for them. He should have a decent rookie year playing back-up to guys like Jay Washington, Raymond Almazan, and Beau Belga. Heck, he should have a better career than Chito Jaime and Ronnie Matias, right?
Sollano showed a handful of skills in the collegiate level. He can crash the glass, hit the 15-footer, and rim-protect. It’s a matter of translating that to the pros. And while Jericho Cruz and Maverick Ahanmisi are still ROS’ main backcourt weapons, Nambatac’s entry would give them more luxury to mix things up.
Overall, it was a good Sunday for the Elasto Painters.
Star Hotshots: B-
Notable picks: Lervin Flores, Joseph Gabayni, Gywne Capacio, Thomas Torres
The Hotshots cashed in on young big men, preparing for the future departures of guys like Rafi Reavis and Marc Pingris.
I think the basis for coach Chito Victolero, who knows where his offense will come from, is to just upgrade their ceiling overall. Star could have done a bit more with the eighth pick, but if that was the goal, Victolero accomplished that. None of Star’s picks might be able to contribute big right away, but it doesn’t matter. This was a conservative approach by Star in this year’s proceedings.
With Maliksi gone, getting Torres late is a steal as he could back up Mark Barroca and Paul Lee and share second unit backcourt minutes with Justin Melton sliding to the two spot.
TNT KaTropa: B-
Notable picks: Mac Tallo, Jon Gabriel, Monbert Arong, Dave Moralde
I thought TNT left a lot of other reliable players available for other squads to snatch despite back to back late first round picks, although that could be because they won’t change their rotation drastically next season.
Tallo, Arong, and Moralde will still have to try out to earn minutes in a line-up which includes Jayson Castro, RR Garcia, Ryan Reyes, and Roger Pogoy.
The Gabriel pick generates intrigue. He is a lanky and athletic forward who may be able to compete for minutes in the second unit, though that maybe difficult after TNT traded for Norbert Torres and Justin Chua and after Kelly Williams revitalizing his career.
There is no doubt TNT’s selections have respective strengths, but if we are talking anyone who could give immediate impact, we will have to wait. TNT may not need a ton of it just yet.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel: B-
Notable picks: Jett Manuel
Ginebra had a competitive year. They didn’t miss the semi-finals of any conference. They have been to two championship series and once again took home the Governors’ Cup. So it was obvious they wouldn’t have a high first-rounder nor many quality picks in the succeeding rounds.
And yet, Ginebra chose Jett Manuel at 12th overall. It’s an interesting choice given the former UP Fighting Maroon is known for his shooting ability. Ginebra may be able to utilize the main strength he has while not exposing his weaknesses that much.
They have a lot of guards, and each play differently. LA Tenorio is their leader. Sol Mercado is a tenacious defender. Scottie Thompson is multi-tooled. Kevin Ferrer plays one through four. Manuel, he could do what he keeps doing best under Ginebra, and come to think of it, Ginebra made a good choice while keeping the core intact.
Kia Picanto: F
Notable picks: A bag of chips
When you sucked all-throughout the PBA season, you may want to improve and become better next year. The best way to do that is to build via the draft. And yet it seems Kia, for the third straight year, thought otherwise.
They traded away the first overall pick for a bunch of bench players just like they let go the rights to Troy Rosario two drafts ago before eventually admitting they’re having a hard time shouldering veteran contracts. I feel bad for coach Chris Gavina, who did a remarkable job last season making the team work as he went small ball to make up for the obvious lack of key players and transcendent talents.
They had no picks in the first two rounds this year, which is amazing for a team that was one of the worst last season. That doesn’t help them at all. But then again, fans remain perplexed; what direction does this expansion franchise want to go to? I hope I could get answers too.
Notable picks: Jebb Bulawan
Well, the Bolts didn’t have that many picks this year. They have done a great job in recent years but this year wasn’t the same case (they’ve gotten better last season already anyway).
People know Bulawan as an athletic forward who won a slam dunk title in the NCAA. What he can offer to a roster which includes a handful of regular rotation wings and stretch forwards (Chris Newsome, Jared Dillinger, Cliff Hodge) remains to be seen.