“I just had a malfunction.”
The NBA draft has just concluded, with a Deandre Ayton being selected at No.1 by the Phoenix Suns. Here are the winners and losers of the draft.
Winner: Dallas Mavericks
It may have essentially cost them two first round picks (the Mavs traded a 2019 first round pick that is reportedly protected one through five) to get their man but the Mavs got the best player in this draft in Luka Doncic.
Doncic has the most impressive resume of any European prospect ever!
At 19 he lead Real Madrid to EuroLeague and ACB (Spanish League) championships winning the EuroLeague MVP, EuroLeague Final Four MVP and ACB MVP awards along the way.
Doncic is an elite playmaker who has shown sophisticated pick and roll abilities, a must have for NBA point guards, along with a great shooting and scoring touch.
He should fit nicely next to second year player Dennis Smith Jr who can transition to an off the ball shooting guard role.
Winner: Luka Doncic
The Mavs may be the best possible landing spot for Doncic. The Mavs had a round 2018 season however there are some nice pieces there.
If the Mavs can stay healthy Doncic will be passing to Harrison Barnes, Wes Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr and of course Dirk Nowitzki.
No other lottery team would have given Doncic this many reliable options from day 1, this should ease his transition into the league and help his numbers.
We also cannot underestimate how valuable Dirk’s mentorship will be to Doncic, no one knows more about transitioning from Europe to the NBA than Dirk.
Loser: Marvin Bagley
Marvin Bagley will play for the Sacramento Kings!
Winner: Sacramento Kings
The Kings are a 2018 Draft winner because they didn’t do anything outrageously stupid. While Bagley is not Doncic and there are serious questions around his position in the NBA he is clearly exceptionally talented and a fair selection in the top three.
The bar is set very low for the Kings, but they should be congratulated for meeting the minimum viable competency for an NBA franchise
Loser: Sacramento Kings
Given what the Hawks received in the Doncic swap and the rumours that the Hawks were hell bent on either Jaren Jackson Jr or Trae Young it would have been nice to see Sacramento use their leverage and walk away with a little more.
Maybe I am asking too much of the Kings here and simply sticking to their guns ensured they could not stuff it up as per usual.
Winner: Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers GM chair is empty and no one knows who was pulling the strings on draft day, but if you didn’t know better you might have thought Hinkie was back in the fold.
With the 10th Pick the Sixers selected local legend Mikal Bridges. It was a perfect selection, he is a local talent, a three year college player ready to contribute right away in the highly valued three and D role. His mother even works at the 76ers.
Half an hour later the 76ers had traded him to the Phoenix Suns for Zhaire Smith and the Miami Heat 2021 first round pick that is unprotected.
Smith isn’t the ready to play prospect Mikal Bridges is, but he is three years younger and has exceptional upside.
Yes the Sixers are a compete now team and Bridges could have fit straight into their rotation, whether or not Smith can is entirely unknown, however Smith’s upside and the additional first round pick make this a big win for 76ers.
The Sixers also save about $1 million in salary which will help in their pursuit of a star in free agency.
PS. Winners and Losers is not always a zero sum game, but in this instance Mikal Bridges is a big loser. Going from being a valuable rotation player for a team headed for years of deep playoff runs, in your home town to playing for a Suns team with one genuine NBA star and 11 development players hurts.
Loser: Michael Porter Jr
18 months ago Michael Porter Jr was the projected number 1 overall pick. After playing only three games in his lone college season his draft stock had dropped and he was projected to go around 10.
Then out of nowhere his stock began to rise rapidly in the week leading into the draft. There were rumours he would go second to the Kings (well done Kings on not taking Porter Jr second overall) and was projected to be taken anywhere from second to 10th.
Porter was finally drafted 14th by the Nuggets. Based on talent and potential alone Porter Jr is a top three prospect, but the ambiguity surrounding his medical status saw him passed time and time again.
Winner: Denver Nuggets
By all accounts Denver had not expected Michael Porter Jr to be available when the 14th pick came around.
As above, the health questions are legitimate and it is expected that he could miss significant time getting his body right.
Denver are most certainly in win now mode and while Porter is a project, both on and off the court, they do not need him to contribute right away given their current roster.
The potential to add an All NBA quality player to your roster at 14 is too good to pass up. Many teams may lament passing on Michael Porter Jr and if not it only cost the Nuggets a 14th selection.
Loser: Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers did not have a bad draft, they walk away with two prospects who have reasonable potential and should at worst become valuable rotation players.
However neither is a franchise-changing star and that is what the Clippers wanted to walk away with from this draft. With picks 12 and 13 there was plenty of potential to trade up and grab a potential super star however they were unable to secure a deal.
Additionally when Michael Porter Jr was available and the Clippers could have walked away with a safe pick and a high upside but risky selection in Porter they still didn’t pull the trigger, the Clippers lacked gumption tonight.
Winner: Lonnie Walker IV
Walker was drafted by the Spurs with the 18th selection. Any player fortunate enough to be selected by the Spurs is a winner.
The Spurs track record of player development is outstanding, Walker is a project but has all the tools to become a great NBA player.
If anyone can get it out of him it is the Spurs. Expect to see walker playing a crucial role on a deep Spurs playoff run in 5-8 years time. Also the cap not fitting on his head was the moment of the draft.
Loser: The NBA
Why draftees have to wear the cap of a team that has already traded them is beyond me. Often the player and the interviewer are the only people who do not know the trade has occurred.
Also the attempted embargo on leaked picks was entirely ineffective with Woj an Shams both announcing each pick on Twitter before Adam Silver sauntered out onto stage.