With the first ever VBA draft happening tomorrow, ASEANSports and Tones & Definition, for the first time ever but not the last, collaborated to come up with our own VBA mock draft for you guys to see. TK (Tones and Definition), has been in the ASEAN sports industry for a while now, so when the man speaks about basketball here in Asia, you listen. Enjoy our bickering and let us know if you agree/disagree with the list.
Overview: I know this is the first draft ever, so there’s not much to refer to, but I feel this is a pretty top-heavy draft. You have pretty much a clear top tier of 2-3 players and it gets a bit murky after that. Team needs are going to be hard to gauge, with World Imports not having been signed yet, but I feel like most teams should be looking for a steady player to bring the ball up the court and be able to score on their own. Any intriguing aspect of this draft is we’ll see how much teams value “continuity” or familiarity of players against untested prospects. As a whole though, this is a very interesting part of the VBA and worth following however it’ll go down.
AS: You’re right, this will be the 2nd year of the VBA and teams are looking for their franchise players. David Arnold is a good example of that. He is the first VK player to stay in Vietnam long term. He has played in the ABL and VBA for the Saigon Heat and it doesn’t look like he’s going away any time soon. With this first draft, it will help balance overall team power.
T&D: The VBA did a decent job of balancing overall team power last season, in my opinion, and I hope that this draft can keep that trend going this year!
First Pick: Thang Long Warriors
AS: With the first overall pick, TLW will select Stefan Nguyen. I know most people would want JY to go first overall but I think TLW wants to establish a leader first. JY’s offense isn’t polished and the team can’t run their offense through him. TLW is really high on Stefan as they believe he’s the one that can set the pace. He can play multiple position from 1-4, in Vietnam. With the TLW potentially bringing an explosive import guard, I think coach Lee will be playing with a fast pace, small team lineup.
T&D: This is going to be interesting. We’re going in different directions on the very first pick! While I agree on everything that’s said about Stefan, I think TLW will go with JY with the first pick. For me, JY bring size and strength to the TLW frontcourt which already has SEABA Championship standout, Nguyen Van Hung. That would give TLW a significant edge over other teams in having two big men that could help slow down the opposing teams big imports. As you said, TLW is potentially bringing in an explosive import guard, so teaming that import with a front line of JY and NVH gives TLW a set of mismatches that Coach Lee can play around with. As cross-town teams, TLW picking JY ahead of HNB who definitely wants JY back after their TBSL stint seems like a kind of move that kick starts a fun rivalry between the two.
Second Pick: Hanoi Buffaloes
T&D: So, I guess it doesn’t really come as a surprise that I think that with the Second Pick of the VBA Draft, the Hanoi Buffaloes are going to select Stefan Nguyen. If TLW really snaps up JY at the top pick, the Buffaloes should be at least mildly upset considering the relationship and familiarity they built up with JY during the past months. Still, getting Stefan is still a pretty sweet deal anyways. HNB has a pretty solid group of players to fill in already at each position, so adding Stefan who can be plugged in at almost any position in the VBA just makes them even more threatening. HNB didn’t get as much scoring from their VK players from last season, but an upgrade to a 13.7 PPG scorer should make Coach Todd Purves get over missing out on JY in a flash.
AS: I don’t think they need much scoring from their VK guys. Coach Purves local players can shoot lights out. With a spread offense, Stefan doesn’t have a reliable jump shot that can save the world from destruction. For my pick, I would go with JY, he doesn’t need to focus on the offensive end, he’s going to get an open spot up look by Hoang Ca, while crossing every team in the VBA with the kick out to JY.
T&D: If modern science found a way to clone basketball players and we had two JYs to pick I’d have HNB pick JY as well (purely based on team fit and not on talent level). But I like the point about HNB locals being very good shooters, but that makes it an even better case for getting Stefan who is a great kick out passer. He should be able to draw more attention to himself when he drives towards the hoop which leaves a more open shot for the receiving end. Maybe I just also like the idea of a Stefan-led Hanoi matchup against a Viet Arnold-led Saigon. …I’m a sucker for good storylines.
AS: Well Stefan will be running his team with the TLW, so we can still have that storied match up. Last season, he had a chance to play in Hanoi but wanted to trade places with Anthony Phan to play in Da Nang, why would the Buffaloes want him after that?
T&D: People change, man. Maybe he’s had a change of heart
Third Pick: Ho Chi Minh City Wings
AS: Now, I’m excited for this next pick. The 3rd overall pick that the Citywings will select is Vincent Nguyen. Rumor has it that a VBA Coach (no confirmed name) invited him to the draft and will select him when the chance comes. I think It’s Coach Ricky that invited him here. Arguably with the deepest local roster, Vincent can do it all on the offensive end. He’s a speedy guard that can shoot lights out, drive to the basket and also get his team involved. Ngo Tuan Trung is more defensive focus so he won’t need to bring up the ball like he did last year. Aly Tran made the team last year and was the starting PG during the preseason but got injured so that’s why they had Trung bring up the ball. What makes this pick exciting is that Vincent played for the U18 and U20 Netherland’s National Team. Get this, he’s only 22 years old! He has the potential to be a franchise player in the VBA.
T&D: Finally seeing eye to eye. I agree that the City Wing would take Vincent Nguyen with the last pick of the first round. Even though people might see it as “losing” the Draft Lottery, I don’t think Vincent should be THAT much of a drop off from JY and Stefan. It’s hard to judge based off mostly on resume and limited game tape, but Vincent’s resume surely is a solid one. Practicing with pros since he was 15, playing on the Netherland’s Youth NTs in a large role, some Dutch Championships along the way… those are solid accolades. I feel that we were more comfortable of giving the 1-2 picks to Stefan/JY mostly because we’ve actually seen that they can hold their own. There still some small room for doubt with Vincent, but the track record is convincing. The City Wings lost considerable talent with the departure of Le Ngoc Tu and Huynh Hai, but replacing that with Vincent should be more than enough. Vincent and Han Minh are going to be a headache for backcourts to cover.
T&D: Oh yeah, and someone should totally start the #Vinsanity hashtag NOW.
Fourth Pick: Ho Chi Minh City Wings
T&D: The Wings lucked their way into the First pick of the Second Round somehow and it’s only time before some dedicated VBA fan calls “conspiracy” as what happens to ALL drafts of any kind. Conspiracy or not, the Wings get a second straight pick in the VBA draft and I have a feeling they’ll take… Anthony Vo! Vincent/Tuan Trung/Han Minh takes care of what the Wings will be needing in the backcourt. Luckily for last year’s Finalist, there’s a solid prospect left in the pool who should be able to play in the in the front court. Vo is no “Justin Young” forward, but he’s 6’2″ and springy (judging from his dunking highlights), he fills in a need at the position for the team. The Texas native doesn’t have the pro credentials, but being groomed and contested in the American Basketball environment is a plus. He might need some time to adjust to the professional basketball level, but he has the physical tools to be a good pick down the road.
AS: Wow! we agreed on another one? That’s 2 in a row, can we make it a 3rd? Anthony is possibly the most athletic guy in this year’s draft and the 3rd tallest behind JY and Stefan. He has 3 years experience playing with an AAU team, for all you guys from Vietnam, it’s like SSA but on steroids. Only the best high school ballers get picked up in an AAU team. Also, he even played in the practice squad for Baylor University which means he can ball. I definitely agree that he will need to adjust to pro level speed.
T&D: SSA on steroids sounds like fun, but a message to the kids here: Don’t do steroids if you want to be a pro-athlete
Fifth Pick: Da Nang Dragons
AS: Why change something that isn’t broke. Jimmy Kien is the ultimate teammate. He fits in Coach Donte’s culture. Dragon #5 does everything that the team needs. He may not be the best at one thing but he is very solid at everything else. He’s scrappy, he has a solid mid-range, he has great hands (ranked 2nd in steals), he can rebound (ranks top 10 last season). Who doesn’t want a glue guy like that?
AS: also his family is from there
T&D: We’re agreeing on too many picks that it’s getting too romantic and annoying. Stop reading my mind. But yeah, I agree. It would be totally unrealistic that the Defending Champions would not pick one of their top players, Jimmy Kien, to return should he be available. I have to admit that I was considering whether the Dragons would need to draft a point guard now that Stefan has left. However, I felt that getting a Championship puzzle piece back was more valuable than trying their luck on a guard which may or may not fit Donte’s system. I still don’t know how he does it, but Jimmy produces what his team needs in bulk (13.6, 8th in PTS among other stats you mentioned) even if it’s not the most appealing method. Also, how did we go through a full season without anyone bringing up the possibility of a #JimmyTime hashtag?
Sixth Pick: Can Tho Catfish
T&D: To continue with the trend of continuity, the Can Tho Catfish should be using the 6th overall pick of the VBA draft on Sang Dinh. I know what you’re thinking. No, this pick isn’t just based on the fact that he is Tam Dinh’s brother and this would be a solid method of keeping the Catfish superstar happy… but it’s a pretty large reason why. The thing is that, there aren’t many reason why the catfish SHOULDN’T draft Sang Dinh. He fills in the need at the guard position, one that the Catfish surely need more depth at, and he plays that role well (4.0 APG, 6th in the VBA). He’s projected to only get better after playing only half of last season and only at the age of 23. You don’t want to be the guy who tells your team’s superstar that you didn’t draft his brother who fits the team’s needs and is just as good as the rest of the players in the pool.
AS: Aww man, we broke the streak! But I think Can Tho will go with Aly Tran, looking at CTC local roster, they are lacking fire power atm. Sang might be 6th in the league in assist last season but this year, he won’t have anyone to pass it to, maybe besides his brother. Last season, Tam was a scoring machine and had to do it all but got hurt towards the end of the season. As the season goes on, they’ll need help in the scoring column.
AS: It’s also a professional league, Tam can’t get mad at the organization for not bringing back his brother, unless you’re Markieff and Marcus Morris
T&D: Hey, JR Smith got the Knicks to pay his brother a good amount of money to play in their D-League team so… But yeah, that’s the Knicks.
AS: and look where the knicks are at today.
Seventh Pick: Thang Long Warriors
AS: Looking at my mock draft list, TLW has a combo guard in Stefan and will be the primary ball handler. Henry can make the TLW very interesting. He has a great stroke and can fire at will. Imagine him playing the role of Klay Thompson. This Warriors team will be all about running and scoring in an instant.
T&D: Despite not agreeing on our first TLW picks, we ended up picking the same guys this time. Being the new kids on the block, TLW is going to need all the firepower they can get. In my case, where they picked JY first, they’ll need someone to help the theoretical guard import to bring the ball up and spread the floor. That is Henry’s bread and butter. When he was playing college basketball in the states (for Orange Coast College), Henry shot 44.4% from downtown on nearly 4 attempts per game. That’s elite shooting on any level of competition. With Henry drawing in perimeter defenders to close out, it should make life for JY/NVH in the paint a lot easier.
Eighth Pick: Hanoi Buffaloes
T&D: I think this is where the draft starts turning into a crapshoot. It’s hard to pick out a player from the remaining group that really stands out from the rest. But nonetheless, with the 8th pick of the VBA draft, the Hanoi Buffaloes should be picking Ryan Le. This is me throwing a curveball and just seeing where my instinct takes me. Le has been away from the scene since last playing for the Saigon Heat in the ABL back in 2014-2015, so I really don’t know what condition he’s in or what other competition he’s had to be in peak form… but it’s hard to deny the athleticism. It’s not just only that he can jump out of the gym, Le has pretty decent size for a forward and should decent movement guarding more talented ABL players. Hanoi is stacked offensively at the guard position (with Hoang Ca, Doc Dat, and Stefan who I mock drafted earlier) so I think they can take a flier on a wing who they won’t be depending so much on to score.
AS: We went with the other Ryan, Ryan Arnold. He didn’t play too well during the TBSL season, he doesn’t need to score as they have that with the local guards. With picking Ryan, he doesn’t get out of his comfort zone, he knows what his job is and sticks to it. This deep into the draft, he has the most experience playing pro.
T&D: Arnold seems like a logical pick and Coach Todd seems to have been content enough with him so far in the past two tournaments. So in a way, Arnold would be a safe pick while Le would be a gamble.
Ninth Pick: Saigon Heat
AS: Last but not least of the 2017 VBA mock draft, the SGH should select Phuoc Anthony Phan. SGH arguably has the best local player in Le Ngoc Tu, but the team is lacking in size and athleticism. Anthony is 21 years old and has unlimited amounts of energy. Even though he didn’t play too many minutes for Hanoi last year, if SGH just lets him play to build his confidence, he potentially can be the sleeper of the draft class. He has a pretty good resume playing and training in the States. Averaging 18ppg, 8rpg, and 5apg in high school is no slouch. If he can get close to numbers like that in the VBA, SGH just released an all-around beast..
T&D: Can’t deny that P.A.P has so much intrigue and seems to be oozing with potential… but I just can’t get over the red flag that he was never able to convincingly crack the rotation of the Hanoi Buffaloes last season. For me the last pick in the VBA Draft (Mr. Irrelevant) for the Saigon Heat this season is… Aly Tran. The Saigon Heat does lack size and athleticism as you mentioned, but at this point of the draft not much of both is left. With David Arnold and Le Ngoc Tu already manning the wings and ready to score on the VBA, the Heat need to have someone to help balance the distribution. Poaching Hong Gia Lan from the City Wings was a nice start and getting Aly Tran should solidify their backcourt. Let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of HUGE bodies in the VBA and I feel like Heat might be able to sneak away with playing some small ball David Arnold at the 4… Or maybe I’m just delusional, but we’re at the last pick of the mock draft and that’s what this does to your head.
T&D: I think my main purpose was to address the needs of each team which might go against the usual “draft best player available” concept. But aside from the first 3 picks, I don’t think there was as a significant gap to just jump at without considering team fit. Again, with this being the first ever draft of the league, it will be interesting to see the direction that the teams (and the league themselves) take.
AS: It will be interesting to see where the VBA will go with the draft in the next couple of years. Other Asean countries that adopted the draft system went away from it the next. I guess time will tell if this draft system will work in Vietnam. Thank you TK (Tones & Definition) for collaborating with us and making this mock draft possible.
1st pick: Thang Long Warriors – Stefan Nguyen
2nd pick: Hanoi Buffaloes – Justin Young
3rd pick: Ho Chi Minh Citywings: Vincent Nguyen
4th pick: Ho Chi Minh Citywings – Anthony Vo
5th pick: Da Nang Dragons – Jimmy Kien
6th pick: Can Tho Catfish – Aly Tran
7th pick: Thang Long Warriors – Henry Nguyen
8th pick: Hanoi Buffaloes: Ryan Arnold
9th pick: Saigon Heat – Anthony Phan
Tones & Definition’s pick:
1st pick: Thang Long Warriors – Justin Young
2nd pick: Hanoi Buffaloes – Stefan Nguyen
3rd pick: Ho Chi Minh Citywings: Vincent Nguyen
4th pick: Ho Chi Minh Citywings – Anthony Vo
5th pick: Da Nang Dragons – Jimmy Kien
6th pick: Can Tho Catfish – Sang Dinh
7th pick: Thang Long Warriors – Henry Nguyen
8th pick: Hanoi Buffaloes: Ryan Le
9th pick: Saigon Heat – Aly Tran