Tha Sports Junkies 101

Winners and Losers From the 2017 NBA Draft

NBA Draft Winners Sam Maller Via Flicker


For some teams, the draft replaces the playoffs as the pinnacle of an NBA season. Owners move players up and down their draft boards for months before the big night. If executed correctly, the NBA Draft could turn around a struggling franchise, or bolster an already successful one. Sleepers, surprise picks and boneheaded trades, these are your winners and loser from the 2017 NBA Draft.

Draft Winners:

Golden State Warriors

Additions: Jordan Bell (PF, Oregon, Draft)

Only Golden State could come into the night with no draft picks and still come out as winners. After Chicago (oh Chicago, don’t worry, we’ll get to them later on) actually did something good and drafted former Oregon big man Jordan Bell 38th overall, the Warriors swooped in and swapped a quick $3.5 million for the elite blocker and rebounder. Bell is a perfect fit for Golden State’s system, and many expect him to contend for playing time with big men James McAdoo and Zaza Pachulia, should he re-sign with the Warriors. The Warriors are winners, but what’s new?

Minnesota Timberwolves

Additions: Justin Patton (C, Creighton, Draft) and Jimmy Butler (SG/SF, Trade with Chicago)

Sure the T-Wolves had to give up promising young players Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and the eventual number seven pick in the draft Lauri Markkanen, but look at what they ended up with. We’re talking about a starting lineup of Ricky Rubio (assuming he doesn’t get traded during this already wild offseason), Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Gorgui Dieng. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a gifted combination of passing, defending and rebounding without any player whose primary focus is scoring. Will it work? Who knows, all we can say for sure is that Minnesota had a draft for the ages, and they were obvious winners. Bonus points for reuniting Butler with his old coach Tom Thibodeau. The Timberwolves are winners off the court, and they will be on the court in due time.

Sacramento Kings

Additions: De’Aaron Fox (PG, Kentucky, Draft), Justin Jackson (SG, UNC, Draft), Harry Giles (PF/C, Duke, Draft) and Frank Mason (PG, Kansas, Draft)

Putting aside for a second the Harry Giles pick, the Kings proved they’re finally ready to be a real NBA franchise. GM Vlade Divac even said that he would’ve picked Fox first overall if he’d had the chance, which shows how dedicated he was to the pick. Interesting to note that all four of Sacramento’s draft picks came from blue blood colleges with rich histories. In fact, when you research what teams are considered the “blue bloods” of college basketball, all four schools represented in the Kings‘ draft picks are considered to be in the top tier. Back to the Kings, however, Jackson is a deadeye shooter who also came with the prettiest floater in the draft.

Frank Mason, despite being the second point guard taken by Sacramento in the draft, has more experience than most of this years draft class (he’s 23) and was known for his phenomenal breakout performances at Kansas. Now Harry Giles. While Giles certainly impressed in high school, his college resume leaves a lot to be desired. Giles averaged 3.9 ppg and 3.8 rpg in one injury-shortened season at Duke. When he left for the draft, which was a shock to many by itself, most people thought he’d be a second-round pick, if he was even drafted at all. The Kings are certainly taking a chance on the youngster, but if it pays off, he could be a unique athletic forward with a substantial upside for years to come. The Kings are winners for the first time in a while.

Draft Losers:

Chicago Bulls

Additions: Lauri Markannen (PF, Arizona, Draft), Kris Dunn (PG, Trade with Minnesota) and Zach LaVine (PG, Trade with Minnesota)

Phil Jackson would be disappointed. Although, have you seen the Knicks? Sorry, this is about Chicago, not New York. I honestly don’t think this could have gotten any worse. One writer gave the Bulls a D+ for their efforts on draft night. Harsh? Maybe. Accurate? Absolutely. Hold onto your hats Bulls fans; this one’s going to be rough.

All bad decisions start somewhere. Chicago’s began with the ill-fated trade with Minnesota just moments before the seventh pick in the draft. Out is Jimmy Butler, the former franchise player who took issue with some of the talk coming out of the Bulls‘ front office. In are three promising, albeit works in progress, young players who could help the Bulls out down the line…..if not for one minor detail. Those three positions the Bulls acquired players at? They’re already filled. At point guard, Dunn and LaVine join the veteran Rajon Rondo in an overcrowded backcourt. At PF, Markannen figures to force Nikola Mirotic to move or get moved. If Mirotic can’t switch to small forward and take over for Butler, he could be on his way out.

Speaking of “on their way out.” Despite picking up his player option for this season, Dwyane Wade could be right behind Rajon Rondo on his way to a buyout if he decides he doesn’t like the direction that the franchise is heading. That wouldn’t be all that surprising, especially after Butler was moved against the will of many Bulls players and fans.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Acquisitions: None (But bonus points for trying to get Jimmy Butler from Chicago)

This is less about what Cleveland did and more about what they didn’t do, which is anything. That goes double considering the fact that the Warriors are sitting on the “winners” side of the equation. The Cavs came into the night with zero draft picks and did nothing to try and change that. They better try and make a big splash in free agency, because they clearly aren’t on Golden State’s level, but then again, nobody else is either. To make matters worse, they’re now also sans-general manager and talks to make NBA legend Chauncey Billups the new GM have stalled. Speaking of stalling, more bonus points for trying to get Paul George from Indiana.

To sum up the Cavs last month: lost to Golden State in the Finals, acquired nobody on or before draft night, and still don’t have a general manager. On the bright side, at least they haven’t given Deron Williams any more money yet. It’s obvious Cleveland has to do something to catch up with Golden State. What they have to do, however, remains to be seen. *Please not another super team, please not another super team*

Denver Nuggets

Acquisitions: Tyler Lydon (PF, Syracuse, Draft), Vlatko Cancar (SF, Slovenia, Draft), Monte Morris (PG, Iowa State, Draft) and Trey Lyles (PF, Trade with Utah)

Denver… many power forwards do you need? The additions of Lydon and Lyles bring their frontcourt total to a whopping eight players. I love the Monte Morris pick, and Cancar is a question mark with unlimited upside. I just can’t get over them passing on former Louisville standout Donovan Mitchell. Couple that with the limited upside of Lydon and the lack of a star player and it’s hard to see where Denver is headed. Credit to the Nuggets for actually doing something in this draft. Does it really count though if half of their moves make no sense?

Assuming Denver eliminates a few big men from their depth chart this offseason, they’re certainly not in the worst shape. Getting involved in a 3-team, Paul George to Cleveland trade wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Dump some power forwards, focus on the frontcourt, all is not lost. It’s not good. But it’s not terrible. Oh to go back to the Melo days. Sorry Denver fans, maybe sometime in the future. The Nuggets‘ biggest problem is they’re not good enough to make the playoffs but not bad enough to get a lottery pick. They’re stuck in limbo. While their wealth of young players promises a brighter future, they’re not turning any heads this season. Perhaps they should pull another Allen Iverson. Cash in on a veteran who’s willing to take less than a team with playoff aspirations. What’s the worst that could happen? They miss the playoffs again?

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