On Thursday, June 21, 60 dreams were made when the 2018 NBA Draft took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. For everyone drafted, it was a night to remember. For some teams, it was a step in the right direction for their franchise’s future. For others, a setback in a potential busted draft pick. The Knicks draft was like any home game at Madison Square Garden. Hilarious.
Every draft has its winners and losers. Teams make great picks and others take the L.
Our analysis looks at if teams picked a player that can fill the team’s needs and if that player was the best available in that position. Without further ado, let’s look at the winners and losers of the 2018 NBA Draft or as I like to call it (for us Zards fans), another reason to fire Ernie Grunfeld.
Although the Mavs gave up a protected first round pick in 2019 to Atlanta, Dallas made a money move as they snatched up Luka Doncic. Arguably the best player in the draft and winner of the hottest mom, Doncic fits in well with the young Mavericks roster that now consists of a deadly backcourt with Dennis Smith Jr.and Doncic. Doncic has proven himself to be a winner as he dominated the EuroLeague by winning MVP and the EuroLeague Championship.
The Mavericks did lose their first round pick next year but the pick is top-five protected which means Atlanta only gets the pick if the Mavs don’t have a pick in the top five. With a promising roster and a mentor in Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas has already got their future in Doncic as they’ll go as far as he can take them.
Don’t forget, the Mavs also selected Villanova guard Jalen Brunson and Dayton freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo. One of them is a national champion and has shown to be one of the more polished guards in the draft. The other is the Greek Freak’s brother.
This focuses all on the Magic’s decision to get Mohamed Bamba. With an astonishing 7-foot-10 wingspan, Bamba is a freak of nature. He draws young Dwight Howard comparisons as he is a wall on the defensive end. Other than being known for his insane blocking ability and height, Bamba has been working on his offensive skill set this offseason that could make a potentially dangerous combination.
Bamba is a player that is too much of a beast to pass up on. We believe the Magic grabbing him at the 6th overall pick was a steal. He’s got a very high ceiling that can take the Magic back to the playoffs in a weak eastern conference. Don’t sleep on the Magic this year as Bamba and Aaron Gordon can make a matchup nightmare for other teams.
This shouldn’t be a surprise for any basketball fans as you know Denver potentially got the biggest steal in the draft. Making up for trading Donovan Mitchell a year ago, Denver was blessed as Michael Porter Jr. somehow dropped all the way down to the 14th pick and into the Nuggets hands.
Ok, I get it. “But Porter has got back problems! He’s a liability!” Injuries could be a problem for him, but have you seen the dude play? Porter was previously ranked #2 in the ESPN 100 and was projected early this year to go top 3 in the draft. He can shoot lights out and can attack the rim very aggressively. Say what you want but the Missouri kid has got the talent to be the NBA’s next star.
The Nuggets with the 14th pick weren’t expecting any future superstar from their pick but now they might have just gotten one. They already have a good roster with young players like Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray with a still talented veteran in Paul Millsap. Look out for Denver to make serious noise in the western conference with their new talent.
Contrary to popular belief, the Philadelphia 76ers made a gorgeous trade on draft night, trading the 10th pick in Mikal Bridges to the Phoenix Suns for the 16th pick, Zhaire Smith, and an unprotected 2021 draft pick from the Miami Heat. Don’t get me wrong, Mikal Bridges would have been a perfect fit in Philly and his roots as a Villanova product make him a hometown product; however, Zhaire Smith projects as a similarly competent 3 and D player. I personally would give the edge to Mikal Bridges, but the trade wasn’t one player for another. It included a pick. An unprotected one at that.
Unprotected draft picks are somehow consistently undervalued. In recent history, a mediocre 32-50 Clippers team traded an unprotected pick in 2011 to the Cleveland Cavaliers which won the lottery and became Kyrie Irving; The Sixers traded the Sacramento King’s unprotected 2019 draft selection to move up to draft Markelle Fultz last year. Brett Brown even said Mikal was 1A and Zhaire was 1B on the Sixers draft board. 1A’s don’t pan out all the time. The more opportunities to draft 1A players, the more likely a GM nails a draft pick. Adding a 1B prospect and a potential high lottery pick always outweigh a 1A draft slot.
Atlanta needs talent. Simple as that. While drafting down can be a savvy move if a team likes a player and is looking to add more assets, Atlanta passed up a potential Hall of Famer in Luka Doncic to draft Trae Young and a protected draft pick. Trae Young is a phenomenal player and could even be the top option for a playoff team in the future. But it’s obvious that Young is a high-risk high reward draft pick.
There is always a top point guard prospect in a draft. There has to be. Rarely is there a prospect with as full a resume as Luka Doncic. He is widely regarded as the best European EVER to declare for the draft.
When a Hall of Fame Talent is on the draft board you take him. Simple as that.
Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr. was always a volatile draft selection, with rumors that he would be drafted #2 by Sacramento and as low as #15 with the Washington Wizards. Porter’s fall to his draft floor is telling of how NBA GM’s view his injury history and concerns regarding his NBA feel and skills. Denver is a great location for Porter, as he’ll get open looks catching dimes from Nikola Jokic and will have little pressure to perform defensively for a Nuggets team that is developing on the defensive end. This pick was good for the Nuggets, but a bummer for Porter to fall all the way to the 14th pick.
********* Ernie Grunfeld. What the ****. You took a player who would have at least been available in the 20’s, if not the second round, halfway through the first round.
WHAT THE **** ERNIE.
Just like every other player in the draft, Troy Brown Jr. could pan out and could not. We can’t tell. But his perceived value has never been lower and the Wizards reaching for him, even when there was better talent (Lonnie Walker, Zhaire Smith) and positional fit (Robert Williams) available.
If Troy Brown was at the top of the Wizard’s draft board, they could have at least made a savvy move in trading down and getting a future asset or player to help them compete in an increasingly competitive eastern conference.
But Ernie didn’t. He stood still with the draft pick that was given to him by the league and drafted his guy even when 99% of people wouldn’t have made the same decision at the same time. That’s either courage or laziness. When has Grunfeld’s “courage” gotten us past the second round?
Another misstep for one of the longest tenured GM’s in the league. Lazy. Here’s to another year of mediocrity from the Wizards.
– Mateo, Kieran