Every draft has with it winners and losers. We won’t know for sure which teams and players lost last night with the draft decisions and related trades until after the fact, but here are the projected biggest losers from the draft:
5. Miami Heat
Acquired: Bam Adebayo
The Miami Heat didn’t lose nearly as bad as the other teams on this list, but considering the rest of the NBA did pretty well last night, they made it into the bottom five. It’s just that the Bam Adebayo pick was confusing. Hassan Whiteside is the best player this team has, and he is young and signed up long term. It’s just dumbfounding then as to why Pat Riley would want to draft another limited range center in the lottery with forwards James Johnson, Udonis Haslem, Luke Babbitt, and guard Dion Waiters as free agents. Justin Jackson, T.J. Leaf, John Collins, Terrance Ferguson, and OG Anunoby were all better options at 14 and fit better with the Heat.
If Miami was intent on drafting Whiteside’s back-up, better prospects Jarrett Allen and Justin Patton were still on the board as well. If Miami was intent on moving down, they could have done that too! Portland had picks 15, 20, and 26, and multiple teams would have given their first rounder and someone else or another pick in the present or future for the last pick in the lottery. Bam Adebayo would have been a late first round or second round find, but the lottery is just too high for the 6’10” center.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland didn’t do anything in the draft because they gave away their picks. Even the other teams without a pick managed to get better last night: Los Angeles acquired Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell in the second round from Philadelphia and Milwaukee, Memphis acquired Ivan Rabb and Dillon Brooks from Orlando and Houston, even Golden State got Jordan Bell from Chicago.
Cleveland got nothing, however, and as a team that is already 32.5 million dollars above the salary cap and 13.4 million into the luxury tax with only Kyle Korver, James Jones, Deron Williams, Derrick Williams, and Dahntay Jones coming off the books (about 6.4 million combined,) the Cavaliers are left with a stagnant aging roster that already proved it’s no match for the Golden States of the NBA. Perhaps David Griffin could have pulled something off.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
Acquired: D.J. Wilson
Lost: Sindarius Thornwell
The absence of John Hammond was felt for Milwaukee in this draft. The man who tended to swing for the fences in drafting (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thon Maker, Larry Sanders, Brandon Jennings etc.) left Milwaukee to join the Orlando Magic. The result: a pick that has as little potential as anyone in the top 20.
Wilson was a decent starter in college, but 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 30.4 minutes per game as a 6’10” college junior? Come on! That is very discouraging for his professional prospects. Milwaukee had the 48th pick in this draft as well, and there’s a fair chance they could have gotten Wilson with that pick. The guy they chose at that spot, Sindarius Thornwell, would have been great on Milwaukee as a similarly tough nosed back up to Khris Middleton, but he was traded for cash. The Bucks should have gone for a home run in this draft after a successful run to the playoffs last season.
2. Chicago Bulls
It’s amazing how quickly people forget. The Bulls were up 2-0 on the Eastern Conference’s runner-ups and one-seed Boston Celtics. If our starting point guard didn’t get injured, we probably would have won, just like we probably would have beat the Wizards team the Celtics were up on 2-0 beat, and who knows what we could have done against Cleveland?
There was a way to trade away Jimmy Butler, and the way Chicago chose was not it. They gave up Butler, who is a top ten NBA player, not just some one-time all-star selection, for three relative scrubs. Sure, Zach LaVine has pretty numbers with 18.9 points per game on .459/.387/.836 shooting, but the Timberwolves literally played 4.3 points per 100 possessions better without him because of how bad his defense has been. Dunn averaged 3.8 points per game as a rookie who was supposed to be NBA ready on a team with shooting guard opportunities. Markannen is an unknown. On top of that, Chicago gave up their first round pick right outside the lottery. Not a good day to be a Bulls fan.
1. Atlanta Hawks
Acquired: Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli, John Collins, Tyler Dorsey, Alpha Kaba
Lost: Dwight Howard, Frank Jackson
As bad as Chicago’s trades were, they had direction; Chicago was trying to get young talent. Atlanta’s horrible trades and decisions have had no direction. They traded their rim protector, starting center, and win shares leader Dwight Howard, and a higher 31st overall draft pick (Frank Jackson) for Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli, and a lower 41st overall pick. The four million dollars Atlanta gained in cap room is not worth trading a team star for two reserves. It would make a little more sense if they had upgraded draft picks, but Atlanta down graded draft picks.
The cherry on top of this whole mess is their selection: John Collins. Collins is a very good player who I thought could have gone in the lottery, but Atlanta set them selves up to take a center with potential at this point like Jarrett Allen, Tony Bradley, or Anzejs Pasecniks. By taking a sophomore power forward, that’s telling Paul Millsap to take his talents somewhere else. That is the biggest problem with their new roster: they are getting rid of star veterans like a tanking team, but adding role player vets (Plumlee, Belinelli, Humphries, Ilyasova, Dunleavy, Sefolosha) like a contending one.