We won’t actually know how the teams performed in this draft for years to come, but immediately after that there appear to be clear winners and losers from Thursday night.
Magic of Orlando
At the trade deadline last season, the Magic went on a clearance sale, trading franchise cornerstones Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon.
It was a deliberate decision to try and win the top pick in the overall standings, which didn’t pay off as they only ended up No.5 in the draft lottery.
Going into that draft, Orlando probably thought he should find a way to get Jonathan Isaac to coexist with Scottie Barnes. But then the Toronto Raptors ended up taking Barnes at No.4, and with Jalen Suggs on the board, the Magic suddenly made an obvious decision, taking Suggs with No.5 to help speed up their rebuild.
Suggs is a born leader and might be just what Orlando needed to help transform their infamously poor culture.
Add in Franz Wagner, who the Magic got with the Chicago Bulls’ No.8 overall selection under the deadline Vucevic deal, and Orlando had a hell of a night.
And a big reason for that was the Raptors’ decision to take Barnes.
Another team in the early stages of a rebuild, the Rockets got a major boost by taking Jalen Green at No.2, then adding defensive stud Usman Garuba and ultra-athletic guard Josh Christopher later in the draft with the 23rd and 24th picks in total. , respectively.
These seem to be three building blocks of a Houston squad starting over from scratch now after drama James Harden and his outing saw them through last season.
Green, in particular, appears to be a young man with a legitimate star quality to him. From the way his game is projecting at the NBA level, to the swagger he went with on draft day, it looks like he could be a real foundational piece for Houston going forward.
The Hornets may have gotten the draft steal from dynamic guard UConn James Bouknight who fell to them at No.11.
Originally slated to be at least in the top eight picks, Bouknight continued to fall and fall until he fell directly into the Hornets’ lap, where his potential as a legitimate three-tier scoring threat could. To marry very well with LaMelo Ball, although there could be some position and role overlap along the line between Bouknight and Devonte ‘Graham.
Additionally, the Hornets got Mason Plumlee, a very useful center, and the No. 37 pick – who ended up being Auburn’s JT Thor -om the Pistons for just the No. 57 pick as Detroit desperately sought to get rid of. of Plumlee’s salary.
And to top it off, Charlotte stepped in with the New York Knicks to trade for athletic tall man Kai Jones at No.19, a prospect that offers a huge upside-down line, especially as a threat from Ball lob.
It was a good job from the Hornets.
On the night of the draft, five Canadians entered the league, three of which were drafted outright.
The list includes Josh Primo, Chris Duarte (if you’re ready to count it), Dalano Banton, Eugene Omoruyi, and AJ Lawson.
Primo was arguably the biggest surprise pick of the night as the Toronto native placed 12th overall against the San Antonio Spurs, way higher than originally expected.
Immediately after Primo, Duarte went to the Indiana Pacers at No.13. Duarte was born in Montreal, but raised in the Dominican Republic, so he identifies as Dominican more than anything. However, the Canadian roots remain.
Omoruyi and Lawson are also said to have signed as undrafted free agents with the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, respectively.
But Canadian basketball’s biggest victory on Thursday night came from Banton, who made history as the first Canadian to be drafted by the Raptors.
A wonderful moment.
Traditional basketball positions
We are in the era of ‘positionless’ basketball and for proof, you don’t need to look any further than what the Raptors did on Thursday night.
At No.4, they had the opportunity to take Suggs, a more traditional point guard who could have seamlessly stepped in as heir apparent to Kyle Lowry, but instead they went for Barnes and his Swiss Army knife skills.
Then, at No.46, the Raptors took on Banton, another long and versatile player who believes he can play in multiple positions.
It’s clear the Raptors love these long, athletic, multi-position players as they now have four in their roster at Barnes, Banton, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam.
Whether or not they fit a traditional position on the floor doesn’t seem relevant to the Raptors, as being so flexible – both offensively and defensively – is the name of the game these days.
The Raptors aren’t the only team to think that way either, they’re just the most obvious pushing for the idea of playing without actual positions.
Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers acquire Russell Westbrook from Washington Wizards.
It’s costing them quite a bit as they drop Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and the No.22 pick in Thursday’s draft (who ended up being Kentucky big man Isaiah Jackson – whom the Wizards then returned in. Indiana for Aaron Holiday), but the Lakers managed to land their man.
With Westbrook in the fold, the Lakers have a trio of all-star LeBron James and Anthony Davis who combine for 34 all-star caps and 30 All-NBA team selections.
This is awesome stuff.
It also does nothing to help meet the needs of the Lakers.
What Los Angeles need is a guy who can help space the floor and give James and Davis more room to operate around the basket.
Westbrook is a brilliant talent who is the rightful triple-double king, but he doesn’t do it for the Lakers and will most likely do the exact opposite of that for them as he wants to dive into the paint just like his new teammates. superstars.
The funny thing is that before this deal was made with Westbrook, there had been reports that the Lakers were looking to negotiate with Sacramento Kings sniper Buddy Hield involving a similar package to the one they ‘they send to the Wizards.
Hield isn’t at all close to the Westbrook star, but his acquisition would have helped the Lakers more than Westbrook’s would.
“Expert” pre-project analysis
All of those fictitious drafts and large tables published before the draft seemed to have served no purpose as it was a draft where it looked like teams were popping off the board from everywhere.
Raptors taking Barnes at No.4, the Oklahoma City Thunder taking Josh Giddey at No.6, Bouknight dropping to No.11 and Primo getting picked up at No.12, if you compare the actual draft results to the simulations of most of the project’s top experts, you’ll see a very different picture.
It just shows that what members of the media enjoy – even incredibly connected and informed members of the media – will differ from what actual team leaders do.