The wild NBA draft, full of twists and turns, came to a close late Wednesday, Nov. 17. While the top three picks went as expected, unpredicted selections followed. Although there was a surprisingly small number of trades, many notable players went undrafted or dramatically fell into a later pick. Surely, however, there were plenty of teams that came out of the night better than how they arrived. On the other hand, many teams came short of their fans’ expectations. Here are some winners and losers from the night.
Winner: The Boston Celtics
Last year’s eastern conference finals showed Celtics fans that the roster needed an influx of shooting. This year, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge was not messing around. Both of their first-round picks were spent on shooters. At 14, they selected Aaron Nesmith, a small forward that many think was the best shooter in the draft. At 26, they picked Payton Pritchard, a point guard out of Oregon who shot over 40% from three. Pritchard and Nesmith will surely add much-needed shooting depth to this Celtics roster.
Loser: The Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls picked fourth in this year’s draft, selecting Patrick Williams out of Florida State. Many, including myself, were shocked at the pick. Williams only averaged 9.2 points and 4 rebounds last season while coming off of the bench. Williams is a center that has massive potential; however, it was confusing to select him so high with many other notable names left on the board such as Obi Toppin, Isaac Okoro, and Tyrese Haliburton.
Winner: The Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte had a very impressive draft, selecting point guard Lamelo Ball out of the National Basketball League in Australia, along with centers Vernon Carey, Nick Richards, and guard Grant Riller. Lamelo Ball, drafted third overall, is a guy with some of the highest upside in the entire draft. He has excellent vision and a decent stroke from three. Vernon Carey and Nick Richards were top prospects coming out of college, both playing excellently for Duke and Kentucky, respectively. Overall, the Hornets were able to add talent to their young core last Wednesday.
Loser: The Atlanta Hawks
Picking at six, the Atlanta Hawks selected center Onyeka Okongwu from the University of Southern California. Let’s just be clear: I believe Okongwu will be an excellent basketball player. He has all of the tools to become a dominant center in the league. Nevertheless, the Hawks selected him with two other very quality centers already playing for them. Clint Capela and John Collins will not give up minutes, leaving Okongwu with limited game time. It’s a shame that a player like Okongwu will end up not getting the game time that he deserves. For me, the Hawks should have gone for a player like Killian Hayes or Obi Toppin.