Sam Hinkie hasn’t just been a broker at the NBA draft, he’s been a leviathan, with tentacles reaching every part of the league. For years, the draft has been his playground. With the transactions he’s made, he’s swindled teams, perplexed fan bases, and shocked the world. He’s set the agenda for the past couple of drafts, making moves that seemingly run contrary to what it means to be a corporate franchise. But with time, Hinkie’s rabid noncomformity has become normative. It isn’t a matter of what Hinkie is going to do to shock us, it’s when.
But after selecting top-flight prospects with injuries that would keep them out of their first seasons in two consecutive drafts and picking a stashed European prospect in the lottery last year, maybe the most Hinkie thing Hinkie could’ve done this year was draft Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. It was a perfectly vanilla pick for a perfectly healthy and perfectly recognizable quantity. It was Hinkie adhering to the Best Player Available golden rule. In other words, he was still doing what he does, but for the first time in his tenure, it didn’t feel proactive. It felt like a resigned shrug.