July 25, 2017 | 2:43 pm
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NBA Draft 2017 Winners and Losers

The NBA draft took place Thursday night just a few short days after the 2017 NBA Champions were crowned. This year’s draft class was full of incredible talent well into the second round so most teams had the opportunity to get better with the options available. Some teams fared well with their decisions while others left opportunity on the table which will make for an interesting 2017-2018 season. I’ve put together a list of the three teams that performed the best, and the three teams that performed the worst in this year’s draft. Interestingly enough, the Minnesota Timberwolves take the cake.

Winners:

Minnesota Timberwolves

The T-wolves are loaded with incredible young talent, but they haven’t been able to completely connect the dots as they were lacking a defensive presence on the team heading into this year’s draft. In a last minute trade on draft day, the Timberwolves sent Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the 7th pick to Chicago in exchange for Jimmy Butler, Justin Patton the 16th pick in this year’s draft. To be honest I have no idea what the Bulls were thinking (we’ll talk about that more later), but Minnesota made out like bandits in that deal. Minnesota will head into the 2017-2018 season with Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Ricky Rubio in the starting lineup. The 16th pick was still a great spot to be and the T-wolves drafted Patton out of Creighton to apprentice under Towns. Watch out for Minnesota next season–they’re going to be tough.

 

 

Los Angeles Clippers

You’ll notice that I’m avoiding the top three picks when choosing teams that performed well in this year’s draft, and that’s because I believe sometimes the best players go a little later than their talent might show. That is exactly the case for the Los Angeles Clippers. Clippers’ veteran guard Chris Paul is a free agent this year and is reportedly taking meetings with the Houston Rockets and the Denver Nuggets during the offseason. Also, Blake Griffin opted out of his contract today and will be entering the free agency market. In preparation for Paul’s departure, the Clippers made a move to draft, what I believe to be, the best pick of the year. Jawun Evans from Oklahoma State was selected as the 39th overall pick by the Los Angeles Clippers, and he shows to be a promising starting guard for the organization–if not now, then later. Evans was able to lead his college team to the number one offense in the country despite being the only draft prospect on the roster. Along with his exceptional leadership skills, Evans is also known for having great floor vision which will come in very handy if the Clippers are not able to re-sign Paul.

 

 

Golden State Warriors

Yep, you read that right. The 2017 NBA Champs did not have a pick in this year’s draft, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t paying careful attention to what was going on. Golden State noticed that Oregon’s Jordan Bell hadn’t been selected by the end of the first round so they made moves to buy the 38th draft spot from the Chicago Bulls and add Bell to their super team. Bell brings superior shot-blocking abilities which will complement Draymond Green‘s killer defense nicely. Apart from Green, the Warriors aren’t necessarily known for defense so Bell’s addition to the team will bring a nice balance to the roster, and even more wins if that’s possible. Bell’s acquisition may mean that the Warriors are more comfortable parting ways with Klay Thompson now that his scoring abilities have been supplemented by Kevin Durant, but Bell is a couple of years from being ready for the starting lineup so Thompson may hang around for a little while longer.

 

 

Losers:

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets had a great season despite missing out on the playoffs at the 11th hour, and they’re just a couple of key pieces away from being a contender in the Western Conference. Denver’s offense is killer and held the first place slot for a few months this past season, ultimately finishing 5th overall. Their defense, however, is non-existent, and they entered this year’s draft with a glaring need for a defensive-minded forward to protect the rim. Well, that’s exactly what the Nuggets didn’t get, instead choosing a plethora of offensive forwards to add to their already crowded roster. The Nuggets now have roughly six power forwards they will either have to trade away or juggle to give minutes to all while trying to win next season. This meant that recent free agent Danilo Gallinari is almost assuredly gone, unless the Nuggets want to retain yet another forward who is so-so on D.

Chicago Bulls

Another team that has left many scratching their heads is the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls seem to be taking the Nuggets’ approach to defense which is to forego defense entirely and simply try to outscore the other team. Chicago parted with Butler in the draft in exchange for the injured LaVine and the 7th pick with which they selected Lauri Markkanen from the University of Arizona. Markkanen looks to be a good sized power forward/center which will add some strength on rim protection and rebounding, but giving up Butler in the process seems foolish. To top it off, Chicago also parted with their 16th pick, and given the deep draft this season they could’ve really used that extra pick to bolster their roster in Butler’s absence. With Dwyane Wade‘s career drawing to a close, the Bulls are certainly making interesting moves that don’t completely make sense.

Miami Heat

While I don’t think the Heat performed poorly in the draft, their draft selection this year was peculiar to say the least. With the 14th pick, Miami selected Bam Adebayo from Kentucky and it appears that they plan to play him alongside Hassan Whiteside. Adebayo adds a 6’10” frame and a 7′ wingspan to the Heat lineup, but what’s strange about this pick is his pairing with Whiteside. Adebayo and Whiteside under the rim will be a force to be reckoned with, but outside the paint they will be virtually useless. The way the league is now, defenders must be versatile and his effectiveness next to Whiteside against the small ballers on the perimeter will be minimal. Perhaps the Heat have other moves on the way, but for now this will be an interesting duo to keep an eye on.

Now that the draft is over, free agency discussions will heat up and it proves to be a fairly interesting market this season–albeit not as dramatic as the Durant move last year. CP3 and Blake Griffin have declared their eligibility already so they will likely be two of the most high-demand players in the league over the course of the summer. In the meantime, the newly drafted rooks will make their way to their designated teams heading to summer league in just a few short weeks.

 

 

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