We won’t know how teams fared in this NBA draft until years down the line, but that won’t stop us from trying to evaluate who the winners and losers were on the night.
We saw a blockbuster trade go down, just from an unexpected source, while international players made their mark and highly-projected prospects slid.
They really swung for the fences and why not? Phoenix first took Croatian Dragan Bender, widely considered the top international prospect in the draft, with the fourth overall pick and then traded up to target Marquese Chriss, a raw but uber-athletic big with a shooting touch, at eight. Bender’s floor is relatively high and his ceiling could make him the best player in the draft when we look back in a few years, thanks to his skillset and range for a 7-footer. Chriss, on the other hand, needs a lot of polish, especially on the defensive end, but he has all the tools to be a high-impact player. What the Suns had to trade to Sacramento to move up five spots from 13 isn’t likely to hurt them and they got potential that wouldn’t have been available if they had stayed put.
San Antonio Spurs
Somehow, R.C. Buford did it again and all he had to do was wait. At 29, the Spurs had Dejounte Murray fall into their lap after the Washington product was passed on by team after team until the end of the first round. San Antonio get an attacking combo guard with good size for his position at 6’5″. Murray had a promising freshman season before declaring for the draft so while he needs to continue developing, the Spurs have good clay to mold into potentially another productive player to sustain their status as contenders.
It’s hard to see how they’re much better after bringing in Serge Ibaka. Sure, the forward was the best player in the trade between Orlando and Oklahoma City, but he came at the cost of a young, athletic guard in Victor Oladipo and the 11th pick. The Magic aren’t contenders, let alone a playoff team, so this move seems very short-sighted. Ibaka is fairly young at 26, but it’s still possible to be declining at that age and he’s not the type of player he was a couple years ago, especially as a shot blocker. Orlando continues to perplex.
No team entered the draft with more picks as they had eight selections to work with. In a vacuum, who Boston chose wasn’t the problem. Fair or not, the only reason they’re on the ‘losers’ list is because they couldn’t meet expectations to produce fireworks. They were involved in trade talks for Chicago star Jimmy Butler, but nothing came of it. They also couldn’t land either of Philadelphia’s big men, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor, or any other veteran to improve the team immediately. That’s what’s so disappointing for them, that their treasure chest of assets once again couldn’t reel in a big catch. The Celtics are still well-positioned and can remain patient, but that patience is growing thin with their fans.
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