The 2018 NBA Draft is in the books and with it came plenty of excitement, surprises and a flurry of moves.
Of course, it also provided us with winners and losers. In one of the most memorable drafts in years, the 2018 draft had its share of winners and losers on Thursday night.
So let’s take a look at the players and teams who ‘won’ and ‘lost’ after the 2018 NBA Draft.
Loser: Michael Porter Jr.
A year ago, many thought Porter would be the No. 1 pick in this draft. Fast forward a year later, after a season in which he had back surgery and played just three collegiate games, a much different scenario unfolded on Thursday.
During the broadcast before the draft, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported teams received a pessimistic medical report at the NBA Scouting Combine that cast long-term concerns about his back injury.
With rumors that Porter Jr. could be sat out for the entire 2018-19 season, it came as no surprise to see the 19-year-old forward fall. What was surprising is just how far he fell down the draft board.
Porter Jr.’s draft slide finally ended at the No.14 pick when the Denver Nuggets snagged him. If he can stay healthy, then this could prove to be one of the best draft steals in years. Right now though, a night that was supposed to be memorable turned into a nightmare for Porter Jr.
Winner: Dallas Mavericks
While it cost the Mavericks a future first-round selection, they might have very well landed the best player in this year’s draft class.
While some have reservations about Doncic because he played overseas, it is a more competitive league than the NCAA. In the Euroleague, the 19-year-old achieved things few in Europe ever have.
He is loved by scouts, executives and even science. His combination of passing ability, length, basketball IQ, experience and an ability to score in a variety of ways, make him exactly the piece Dallas needed.
The reigning EuroLeague MVP, Doncic now lands in the perfect spot. He can learn from Dirk Nowitzki and team up with Dennis Smith Jr. to give the Mavericks an outstanding two-guard duo for years to come.
On a night when picks were not supposed to be tipped as millions tuned into ESPN to watch the draft, ESPN saw one of its own take them down.
Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN’s top NBA reporter, tweeted in defiance all night against the network’s “no-tipping of picks” order. While ESPN’s broadcast would still be broadcasting the announcement of the previous pick, Woj was already way ahead of them with the next pick revealed.
Zeroing in on the network’s coverage, ESPN fell short there as well. A draft slated to start at 7 p.m. EST didn’t actually start for more than half an hour past the opening.
While the audience might have started the night locked on ESPN, people certainly seemed to prefer following Woj’s Twitter feed as the night went on.
Winner: Denver Nuggets
Once the Nuggets were put on the clock, it should have taken a matter of seconds before they focused on Porter.
He certainly carries massive risk. Backs aren’t exactly known for getting better with age and for it to be a problem this soon in his career, he comes with massive risk.
All that said, this was a player who many considered to be the draft’s best prospect before the collegiate season started. He is a supreme athlete with great length, a developed offensive game and impressive athleticism for his size.
Porter’s loss on draft night proved to be of great benefit for Denver. While the organization will certainly bring him along slowly, a healthy Porter can take this team to another level. Denver’s outstanding trio Jamal Murray, Garry Harris and Nikola Jokic could reach new heights with the rookie forward.
Loser: Sacramento Kings
When the Kings leapfrogged to the No.2 pick after the NBA Draft Lottery, fans in Sacramento were ecstatic. Finally, the team caught a break and could land either Deandre Ayton or Luka Doncic to build around.
Instead, the Kings demonstrated why they are still the butt of jokes so often for everyone around the NBA. While Marvin Bagley III could develop into a very good player, he enters a bit of a logjam with Willie Cayley-Stein and Skal Labissiere. Of course, their placement on this list goes beyond one move.
According to Carmichael Dave of KHTK Sports, the Kings had Doncic, Porter, Ayton and Bagley as players all worth the No. 1 pick in this draft. If that’s the case, then the front office failed to execute on finding value.
Failing to trade up into the early teens to draft a player who is viewed as a No.1-caliber pick on your board, reflects poorly on the organization. Yet for the Kings, it seems to sum up everything that has gone on there in recent years.
Winner: Chicago Bulls
Bulls fans were hurting after the draft lottery when the Kings, who lost the coin flip to Chicago, jumped up to the No. 2 pick. Now a few months later, it’s the Bulls that should walk out of this draft grinning.
The night started for Chicago with Wendell Carter, a 19-year-old center who was underrated after Bagley’s dominance with the Duke Blue Devils. The Bulls saw Carter’s talent, an athletic big man who brings a balanced skill-set to the team who can bring an inside presence with rebounding, defense and passing, as the perfect complement to Lauri Markkanen.
It didn’t stop there for Chicago. It added Chandler Hutchison with the No. 22 pick, a 6-foot-7 guard/forward who can add outside shooting and a defensive element to this lineup. Chicago was linked to him back in May and they scooped him up within seconds when they were on the clock.
Loser: Mikal Bridges family
For a few moments, it was a heartwarming story. Bridges, who spent his entire life playing basketball in Pennsylvania, was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers. He put on the hat, heard his name called and his family celebrated.
Even more incredible, Mikal would get to work in the same stadium as his mom. Tyneeha Rivers, Mikal’s mother, works in the human resources department for the 76ers.
Then in a moment, happiness turned to shock. Philadelphia traded Bridges to the Phoenix Suns for Zhaire Smith and the Miami Heat’s 2021 first-round pick.
There’s nothing wrong with the landing spot from a basketball perspective. Bridges gets to play with Devin Booker, Ayton and Josh Jackson. But an incredibly special moment and feeling of playing at home was gone in seconds. He held a press conference where he talked about the feeling of playing at home, then learned immediately after it was all over.
Winner: Philadelphia 76ers
While Philadelphia might have delivered a crushing moment for Bridges’ family, they executed their draft to perfection on Thursday night.
According to Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated, Philadelphia was reportedly heavily interested in Zhaire Smith before the draft. The team considered taking him with the No.10 pick but found a way to move a few spots down and gain a first-round pick in the process.
While the 76ers won’t see the pick until 2021, Miami’s unprotected first-round pick should have plenty of value in the future. The 76ers saved money in the process and added point guard Landry Shamet later on, giving them another desperately needed shooter to bring off the bench.
Loser: Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks found themselves in a dream scenario when Sacramento drafted Bagley. With Doncic on the board, Atlanta could grab a guard to build its team around and hopefully see him thrive immediately in the NBA.
Instead, the Hawks shipped him off to Dallas. While adding a first-round pick is an excellent return to move down just two spots, the player Atlanta used with the No.5 pick and the pick protections on the Mavericks pick raise questions.
According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, the 2019 pick carries a top-five protection. So if disaster strikes for the Mavericks, they will keep their first-round selection next year.
Meanwhile, Atlanta rolls the dice on Trae Young. While he was phenomenal early in the year for the Oklahoma Sooners, he looked like a much lesser player later in the season.
While he certainly has NBA handles and shows great shooting from the outside, he also has questionable shot selection, athleticism and below average defense. Doncic was the superior player, but Atlanta chose to take a massive gamble and hope Young becomes more like Stephen Curry than Seth Curry.
Winner: Boston Celtics
Boston waited quietly for the draft to unfold, waiting to see whatever options would be there when it was finally their turn. The patience certainly paid off for the Celtics front office.
Yes, there is major risk with Robert Williams. Teams had major concerns about his work ethic and if he will ever take the time to make the adjustments needed to become an NBA player. Fortunately, Boston is a great place to land for a player who needs to learn exactly those things.
If Brad Stevens and the veterans can get through to the big man, they could have an impact player on their hands. He is an excellent shot blocker at the rim and an excellent athlete with comparisons made to Clint Capela.
It’s a gamble, but that’s exactly what teams should do with the No.27 pick. If this works out, Boston landed the steal of the draft.
Loser: Dennis Schroder
The afternoon started with rumors about the Los Angeles Clippers as a potential landing spot for Dennis Schroder. Instead, Schroder is still in Atlanta and the Hawks just drafted his replacement.
Now Schroder must wait for a bad situation to shake out. If Atlanta keeps him, he’ll have to play alongside a ball-dominant guard in Young and see his numbers potentially take a hit.
Perhaps the Hawks find a nice landing spot for him, but any hopes of being traded on draft night are over. With one less team in need of a starting point guard, the 24-year-old faces an offseason with a lot of uncertainty.
Puma wanted to rebrand itself this offseason. It signed Marvin Bagley to the largest shoe deal by a rookie since Kevin Durant and brought on DeAndre Ayton as a representative as well.
Now the company is back on the map after its star draft prospects were drafted with the No.1 and No.2 overall picks on Thursday night. Now the top picks can take the stage with their new shows, giving Puma even more exposure than they could have hoped for originally.
Of course, the night of good fortunes didn’t stop there for Puma. The company also saw two additional clients, Porter and Smith, hear their names called within the top-20 selections on Thursday.
It’s a major step in the right direction for the company and its new creative director Jay-Z. Things could get even better if Porter Jr. can stay healthy and seize the potential everyone knows he is capable of