Every draft has with it winners and losers. We won’t know for sure which teams and players won last night with the draft decisions and related trades until after the fact, but here are the projected biggest winners from the draft:
5. Denver Nuggets
|Nikola Jokic||Mason Plumlee||Juan Hernangomez|
|Trey Lyles||Kenneth Faried||Darrell Arthur|
|Danilo Gallinari||Wilson Chandler||Tyler Lydon|
|Gary Harris||Will Barton||Malik Beasley|
|Jamal Murray||Emmanuel Mudiay||Jameer Nelson|
Acquired: PF Trey Lyles, F Tyler Lydon, G Monte Morris, G/F Vlatko Cancar
Lost: G Donovan Mitchell
Denver turned their late lottery pick into a former lottery pick: Trey Lyles, who has a lot of potential still after being taken 12th overall in 2015. Denver also gets Tyler Lydon, a very good combo forward. This does a lot of things: it makes Kenneth Faried and Danillo Gallinari expendable, it gives Denver a great young big man core of Nikola Jokic, Mason Plumlee, Lyles, Juan Henangomez, and Lydon – not to mention Darrell Arthur. Lyles is defensively sound with 3.3 win shares through two seasons in a reserve roll, and he will add to the defensively 29th ranked Denver Nuggets.
Lydon is a tall forward (6’10” and 225 pounds) who has efficient shooting (.475/.392/.836.) He will play well off Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. With Gallinari and Faried expendable, Denver has the cap space to go for a high level guard. Monte Morris was a successful college player and a value at 51st, and Vlatko Cancar is a solid draft and stash candidate from a difficult European league. The traded Donovan Mitchell is very athletic, but he shot only 40.8% from the field this year. It rose to 44.2% in conference, but that 40.8% on a season as a sophomore is not something that merits lottery selection.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
|Joel Embiid||Jahlil Okafor||Anzejs Pasecniks|
|Ben Simmons||Richaun Holmes||Jonah Bolden|
|Robert Covington||Dario Saric||Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot|
|Markelle Fultz||Justin Anderson||Sterling Brown|
|T.J. McConnell||Jerryd Bayless||Gerald Henderson|
Philadelphia got the best prospect in this draft starting off with the 3rd overall pick. It won’t be very hard to trust the process when Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, and Markelle Fultz are wrecking havoc on the NBA. Fultz was the consensus number one pick, and could very well be an all-star very soon, and he is definitely worth giving up the lower pick: Jayson Tatum.
Philadelphia then gave up Jawun Evans and two future picks, but got Anzejs Paceznics, who’s a 7’1″ player built in the Kristaps Porzingis mold, other international prospects Jonah Bolden and Matthias Lessort, and a skilled 6’6″ guard Sterling Brown who shot 44.9% from three. Obviously giving up picks is never ideal, and Jawun Evans was projected to in the 1st round in many mock drafts, but Philadelphia definitely got better return for their personnel moves.
3. Los Angeles Lakers
|Brook Lopez||Ivica Zubac||Thomas Bryant|
|Julius Randle||Larry Nance Jr.||Tarik Black|
|Brandon Ingram||Luol Deng||Kyle Kuzma|
|Jordan Clarkson||Corey Brewer||Josh Hart|
|Lonzo Ball||Tyler Ennis||David Nwaba|
It feels wrong to write a Lakers depth chart now knowing that at any minute now it would be wrong to not have Paul George on it, but either way, the Lakers preceding moves to any trade they make for Paul George have been fantastic. Getting the Brooklyn Nets’ all-time leading scorer and 29 year-old former all-star Brook Lopez, who’s coming off a season of averaging 20.5 points per game in 29.6 minutes, and a first round pick to make it three they had in this draft is great return for Timofey Mozgov’s 16 million dollar annual contract and D’Angelo Russell, who shot 40.5% last season.
Within the draft, Los Angeles selected their franchise point guard Lonzo Ball, who’s being dubbed as Jason Kidd with a jump shot. They also made a savvy trade at the end of the first round by getting Villanova star Josh Hart and Indiana star Thomas Bryant for a 6’10” back-up player for UNC Tony Bradley. Kudos to Magic Johnson.
2. Charlotte Hornets
|Dwight Howard||Cody Zeller||Christian Wood|
|Marvin Williams||Frank Kaminsky||Johnny O’Bryant|
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||Dwyane Bacon||Treveon Graham|
|Nicolas Batum||Jeremy Lamb||Briante Weber|
|Kemba Walker||Malik Monk||Ramon Sessions|
Charlotte has done an unbelievable job reconstructing their roster before free agency has even begun. They got future hall-of-fame center Dwight Howard AND upgraded their draft pick for relatively nothing. Marco Belinelli averaged 10.5 points per game last season, but his replacements are on the Hornets roster in the form of the more efficient Jeremy Lamb and the more promising Malik Monk. Miles Plumlee played in 13 games for Charlotte and averaged 2.4 points. Dwight Howard, if healthy, will be a force for them down low on both ends. Howard had 8.3 win shares last season, and is still one of the best centers in the NBA.
Malik Monk would have been a reach in the top seven, but after ten, getting Monk this late in to the lottery is a steal. Charlotte needed a back-up point guard for Kemba Walker and they were able to draft one of the best players in college basketball last season as a freshman. Keeping Dwayne Bacon over Frank Jackson was questionable, but they addressed the back-up guard situation with Monk, and Bacon could end up being a value find at 40th after his draft stock slipped from his freshman to sophomore year of college.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves
|Gorgui Dieng||Cole Aldrich||Jordan Hill|
|Karl-Anthony Towns||Justin Patton||Nemanja Bjelica|
|Andrew Wiggins||Shabazz Muhammad?||Adreian Payne|
|Jimmy Buler||Brandon Rush?||Omri Casspi?|
|Ricky Rubio||Tyus Jones||Cameron Oliver|
This one is simple. The Tom Thibodeau robbed his old team the Chicago Bulls of a top-ten NBA superstar by giving him a supposedly ready NBA rookie last season that averaged just 3.8 points per game on a team looking for answers in the back court, Kris Dunn, a dunk contest contestant who is one of the worst defenders in the NBA to the point that Minnesota was better without him, Zach LaVine, and the 7th overall pick, which became the, admittedly, potent Lauri Markannen. The Timberwolves also got the Bulls to give them their draft pick, which became the slightly less potent Justin Patton. Minnesota is a playoff team next year because of the progress they made last night.