After four and a half hours of Adam Silver and Mark Tatum announcing names and trades that were already known due to Adrian Wojnaroski leaking the picks on Twitter, every team walk away from the draft better, the same, or worse. Here are the winners and losers from Thursday night.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves finally stepped up to the plate and traded for SG Jimmy Butler. The Timberwolves only gave up Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, and the #7 pick Lauri Markkanen. That might seem like much, but Dunn didn’t play much his rookie season and struggled when he did, Lavine tore his ACL mid-season and his return date is not known, and although the Timberwolves gave up the #7 pick, they only had to move down to #16 to select Center Justin Patton from Creighton.
The Timberwolves were able to keep their core together while acquiring Jimmy Butler, and they also were able to draft in the 1st round thanks to the Bulls. And for all the Hawks fans out there, the Jimmy Butler trade means that the Hawks will get Minnesota’s 2018 1st round pick unless Minnesota somehow misses the playoffs.
2. Philadelphia 76ers
Not only did the 76ers swap 1st round picks with the Celtics for only one future 1st rounder to select Markelle Fultz, but the 76ers traded back into the back half of the 1st round to select Anzejs Pasecniks, a 7’2″ Center from Latvia who has played next to Kristaps Porzingis. While Pasecniks might not be Porzingis, ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla described him as an “athletic big man, perfectly suited for the space-and-pace game.”
The 76ers were also active in the second round, for they drafted Jonah Bolden and Mathias Lessort. Bolden played professionally in Australia, and he shot 40% from three and is a dynamic athlete. Bolden can definitely be a steal, and so can Lessort, who will serve as a draft-and-stash pick for now.
3. Golden State Warriors
This might be a surprise for many as the Warriors entered the draft with zero picks. But in the second round, the Warriors bought Jordan Bell from the Bulls. Bell is an insane athlete who is a shot blocking machine. He averaged 2.2 blocks per game and had 8 blocks against Kansas in the Elite 8.
Bell was very high on my mock draft, as I predicted him to go #19 to the Hawks. Bell can guard four positions, the perimeter, and the post, and with many Warrior bigs leaving in free agency, Bell will get immediate playing time. The Warriors were able to snag another undersized rim protector to go along with Draymond Green. My question is: when are teams going to stop helping the Warriors?
1. Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls had a tough night. After Jimmy Butler trade rumors lasted over a year, the Bulls finally shipped Butler to the Timberwolves. In return, the Bulls got three players with severe knocks.
Kris Dunn struggled mightily in his rookie season, Zach Lavine is recovering from a nasty torn ACL, and Lauri Markkanen, right now, is a shooter- and that’s it. All have high potential, but none of them have the potential to become a star like Jimmy Butler. All of those players are all huge risks, and some of them, if not all, will not live up to their potential. Plus, the Bulls selected one of (if not) the best defenders in the draft, Jordan Bell, and sold him to the Warriors. Thanks Chicago, for making the Warriors even better!
2. Indiana Pacers
Paul George has made it clear that he will leave Indiana right after his contract expires, and yet the Pacers have not traded him yet. When George leaves, the Pacers will definitely have to rebuild, and the draft would’ve been a great place to start. The Pacers passed up on a huge opportunity to grab at least 2 first round picks for George.
The return for George is getting smaller as every day goes along. At the deadline, the Hawks offered 4 1st round picks for George and they declined, they passed up on multiple 1st round picks in this year’s draft, and now George’s value has slimmed now that free agency is close. C’mon Indiana.
3. New York Knicks
Phil Jackson is running the Knicks into the ground, and owner James Dolan wasn’t even present at the draft, instead playing with his band. The Knicks franchise is a total embarrassment, and yet no change has been made. Having trade talks about the future of the Knicks, Kristaps Porzingis, is absolutely absurd. Jackson passed up on Dennis Smith Jr. and Malik Monk (who dropped 47 on UNC) for a raw, international Point Guard who doesn’t even fit the system Jackson has installed in New York.
New York Knicks fans should be scared out of their minds about upcoming free agency as last year, Phil Jackson signed Joakim Noah to a massive contract, which turned out to be one of the worst free agent signings we’ve ever seen. Jackson is driving this organization into the ground, and yet he has still not been fired.