The 2018 NBA Draft quickly came and went this past Thursday. Now we have to look forward to actually seeing these players playing for their new teams. We won’t know who really won and lost this draft until a few years down the road once we’ve seen how these players actually do, so for now we have to choose winners and losers by the talent level of players and what needs each team filled. Like I did with the NFL Draft, I’m posting this a few days after the draft because I wanted time to really look into the moves each team made. I’ve had time, so here are my 2018 NBA Draft winners and losers.
Phoenix got one of the best players in this draft with the selection of DeAndre Ayton, so that would have been a win if he was their only pick. What really makes the Suns winners in this draft is what they did after their first selection. They made a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers to get Mikal Bridges. Bridges has been considered one of the top 10 players in this draft throughout the entire draft process. He’s a player ready to contribute right away. Phoenix got two top 10 prospects in this draft who are both ready to make an impact right now.
Dallas came away with Luka Doncic in the first round of the draft. He was selected by the Hawks with the third pick, but then traded to the Mavericks for Trae Young and a first round selection. Turning the fifth pick into Luka Doncic is a huge win for the Mavericks because Doncic was considered by many to be the best overall prospect in this draft class. I also really liked the selection of Jalen Brunson. He may not be anything special in the NBA, but I believe he’ll be a solid player for many years. Getting the EuroLeague MVP and the College Player of the Year is a solid draft.
Denver took a risk by selecting Michael Porter Jr. with the 14th pick, but I love this risk. MPJ was once considered the number one pick in this draft class. Unfortunately, an injury set him back in college and had a lot of teams worried about his future. Even though there’s the injury scare, you only get mocked number one overall in a draft if you have talent. If this risk pays off, the Nuggets got a huge steal. If it doesn’t pay off, some might be disappointed and think they wasted the number 14 pick, but I don’t see it that way. The possible reward of this pick significantly outweighs the risk in my opinion.
Atlanta came away with the best shooter in the draft in Trae Young. We don’t know how Young will turn out yet. Some think he’s a bust and some think he’s the next Steph Curry. Just the fact that he’s getting compared to Steph Curry makes the Hawks a winner. If Young can be anything near Curry, the Hawks are getting a franchise changing player. Young isn’t just a shooter. He can also pass very well. Atlanta picked Kevin Huerter with their second pick, who is a sharp shooter. Huerter shot 41.7% from three point range last season. Atlanta also selected Omari Spellman, who shot 43.3% from three point range last season. Atlanta came away with the best shooter and one of the best passers in the draft, along with two guys who Trae Young can pass to and rely on to put the ball in the basket.
Mikal Bridges was selected by the 76ers with the 10th pick in the draft. When he was selected, he and his family were celebrating the pick because Bridges would get to stay home and play for his home team. Bridges was interviewed about it during the draft and everything seemed normal. Soon after that Bridges was traded to the Suns. I lost a lot of respect for the 76ers for this move. Why would you not tell him he was going to be traded before he and his mother were so excited about it in front of the entire NBA fan base? Come on 76ers. Come on. I also think trading Bridges was a mistake from a player stand point. This is a team ready to compete right now. Mikal Bridges can contribute right now. Instead the 76ers got a player who may not be ready to contribute right now and will need time.
When I say the Orlando Magic are losers in this draft, I’m not taking a shot at Mohamed Bamba or any other player Orlando drafted. I think Mohamed Bamba is going to be a great NBA player, but his skill set doesn’t fit what Orlando needs right now. Orlando’s biggest need was a point guard who can shoot. They lost out on Trae Young and selected Bamba instead. With their other two picks, the Magic selected players who are much better defenders than they are scorers. Somehow I just knew the Magic would end up with a couple more defenders who won’t solve their biggest problem. This team might be good defensively, but it won’t matter if they can’t score.
Michael Porter Jr.
Once considered to be the number one overall pick in this draft class, Michael Porter Jr. fell all the way down to number 14 because of injury concerns. His talent is there, but he hasn’t played at a high level pretty much since high school. It’s a win for MPJ because he won’t have as high of expectations and if he turns out to be the player he was once thought to be, every team before the Nuggets will regret not taking him. The loss here is because of the money he lost out on. There’s a significant difference between number one money and number 14 money.
Los Angeles Clippers
I feel like the Clippers wasted their two lottery picks. The first selection allowing them to get Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was a good pick for their draft position, but the second pick I’m not too sure about. Jerome Robinson is athletic, but I don’t feel like he’s ready to contribute right away. There were much better players available when the Clippers were making their second pick. I feel like they should have taken a chance on Michael Porter Jr. With two lottery picks, why not take a risk on one of them that could pay off big time?