We can sit here right now and pretend we know exactly which teams homered in the draft Thursday night, or we can be honest and admit that this is all a guessing game. It will be years before anyone really knows who “won” or “lost” the 2021 NBA draft. (Did anyone have the Bucks as clear winners when they selected Giannis with the 15th pick in 2013?) Of course, The decisions teams made on Thursday will still have a major effect on the future outlook for the league. So let’s go over a few NBA winners and losers based on how the draft got triggered.
Winner: Brooklyn Nets
The Nets took away a couple of players late in the first round who could end up in the rotation and maybe even see a few playoff minutes in Day’Ron Sharpe and Cam Thomas. More importantly, Brooklyn has to be happy with the way he’s comparing himself to other contenders before free agency. No one in the East made a significant move to improve their roster through the trade, which means Brooklyn is probably the favorite to come out of the conference, even after the Bucks’ championship race. And across the coast, does the Russell Westbrook trade really scare Kevin Durant or James Harden? Obviously, with free agency yet to come and the trade / acquisition deadline still many moons away, no contender is close to final form. Still, early returns are promising for the Nets, who still possess the league’s greatest talent.
Loser: Stephen Curry
While the Warriors may have added two great prospects in Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, it’s more than fair to question how much both players can affect the team this upcoming season. Stephen Curry proved in 2021 that he remains in his MVP form even after five straight trips to the Finals that affected everyone at Golden State. The Dubs simply cannot afford to waste more of their career. Head office was certainly trying to buy both of their lottery picks for an impact veteran, and maybe there’s still a move, but for now it has to be a bit frustrating for Curry (plus Draymond Green and Klay Thompson) than the one. team can. ” He couldn’t find a way to complete the rotation like he did during the heyday of the Golden State championship. Last year it was clear that Steve Kerr had trouble balancing the chase for victories while developing No. 2 pick James Wiseman. It’s not out of the question that the Warriors still make a big change, or maybe even Wiseman will take a leap. For now, it will be an uphill climb for Steph, Dray and Klay to return to the Finals with all the youngsters on the roster.
Bradley Beal seems legitimately interested in keeping things in DC, and general manager Tommy Sheppard somehow turned John Wall and Russell Westbrook’s supposedly radioactive contracts into Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrel, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Aaron Holiday. Even if that’s not some magical loot that will transform the franchise, those are respectable players who will add depth around Beal. Kuzma, Harrel and KCP are guys who can be in the rotation on a really good team. Washington is still a long way from resembling anything like a contender. At least now they have some cool pieces and flexibility to move on.
There is hardly any reason to view the draft in a conventional way. Not only are picks received well in advance, but the flurry of exchanges makes viewing awkward when Adam Silver hugs a hat-wearing player from a team that everyone outside the arena knows he will never play for. . If the NBA can figure out its super-complicated schedule or how to shoe a midseason entry tournament, surely someone in the league office can come up with a solution to the draft experience.
Winner: G League
Two players in the top seven (Kuminga and Jalen Green) stopped playing college basketball and instead signed up for the G League Ignite, the NBA’s experimental team that allows prospective lottery players to gain professional experience before get selected (and, more importantly, get paid). playing.) With NIL deals sweeping the NCAA, I’m curious to see how Team Ignite is impacted in the future, with the college athletics platform perhaps tilting the financial balance in favor of the standard route to the pros. For at least Year 1, Team Ignite proved to be a viable option for players hoping to reach the top of the draft.
Losers: Ben Simmons and the Sixers
Ben Simmons and the Sixers are clearly heading for a breakup. Except it looks like Philadelphia is struggling to find a business partner for Simmons, an undeniable talent coming off the worst postseason performance of his career. It will be incredibly uncomfortable for both parties the longer this saga goes on. Can Simmons really be expected to play a minute for the Sixers this season? But can Philly trade it for a good return without Simmons regaining his value on the court? It makes sense why no one is sending Daryl Morey their best assets when he seems desperate to move Simmons, and when his playoff performance was a legitimate cause for concern. It also makes sense why Morey doesn’t just ditch Simmons when he’s been a part of three All-Star teams and earned an All-NBA nod before he turned 25. The longer no one moves, though, the closer everyone involved gets to Simmons actually having to adjust. for Philadelphia after a summer practically devoted to its trade rumors.
Winner: Russell Westbrook
The biggest draft winner was Russell Westbrook, who will play for his fourth team in four seasons when he takes the floor for the Lakers this fall. Westbrook has a number of failed partnerships in his past and is a terrible spacer, and yet the offensively challenged Lakers still used almost all of their valuable business capital to acquire him. As complicated as the adjustment may be, this move doesn’t happen without the blessings of LeBron and Anthony Davis. Despite all of Westbrook’s warts, it is clear that many of his peers still respect him. How he will help the Lakers, particularly in a playoff series, remains a mystery. However, after years of rebounding, Westbrook couldn’t have ended up in a better situation for him.
More NBA coverage:
• 2021 NBA Draft Ratings
• Russell Westbrook / Lakers trade qualification
• NBA free agency rankings
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.