NBA Draft: Top 5 Biggest Winners Of The NBA Draft
NBA Draft: Top 5 Biggest Winners Of The NBA Draft
I will go over my Top 5 favorite drafts from a value perspective. I will take into account trades and risk vs. reward. Just because I say your team had a good draft doesn’t mean that it is guaranteed to work out, I am one just person and we as the general public get fooled into immediate post draft analysis instead of being patient and allowing it to play out. With that being said, this is fun so let's go over what teams I think gave themselves the best shot at a brighter future.
We all saw this coming, I’m a Detroit sports fan but I truly feel like we’re getting enough national media attention from this class for me not to feel bad about including them. Jaden Ivey is widely regarded as a top 4 player in this draft class so snatching him at #5 feels like a steal. Ivey has a new backcourt mate in Cade Cunningham that feels like a perfect fit.
Ivey is a walking bucket and Cade is a pass first guard that is capable of scoring but doesn’t need to in order to be effective. Ivey won’t be tasked with being the primary ball handler and should compare similarly to a Jalen Green type of talent despite the multiple comparisons to Ja Morant.
Detroit also trading the 2025 1st round pick via Milwaukee to Charlotte for pick #13 was a good move for this team. That Milwaukee pick originally received in the Jerami Grant trade should be in the 25-30 range if Giannis is still doing freakish things. Jalen Duran was a great selection and will likely take Detroit out of the DeAndre Ayton sweepstakes. Duran is just 18 years old with major upside and gives Detroit the length that they lacked on the roster. Isaiah Stewart plays above his size but Detroit adding a big with 2 extra inches on Beef Stew could bode well for those situational moments where you need height. Snagging both Ivey and Duran feels like yet another win for Troy Weaver.
My second favorite draft has to come from the Houston Rockets. This team had Jabari Smith just fall in their lap at #3. The whole general public thought Smith was going with the top pick for months and now they get arguably the best player in this draft there for the taking. Getting Jabari instead of Paolo feels like a much better fit and will help them elevate Alperen Sengun’s game as well.
The biggest knock on Sengun is his lackluster defense and although Paolo would have been a great pick for Houston, the fit with Jabari feels more natural so they can at least have one good defensive big out there. The departure of Christian Wood feels like it has been perfectly filled and some. Tari Eason was an outstanding pick at #17. The man has been receiving comparisons to Scottie Barnes and is a player that moves so well in transition.
In an offense with speedy Kevin Porter Jr and Jalen Green, he seems like a guy who slides right in and has an immediate impact. TyTy Washington is a player who could have went much higher than pick #29 if not for him playing through injury. He’s a shifty guard who can grow as a both a facilitator and long-range shooter. Although it’s a forgotten art, he has a great midrange jumper and should fill in nicely as a backup point guard with upside to eventually be a starter if he works on the holes in his game needed. Rockets have three players that all have starter potential and likely got the best player in the draft without needing to trade up, an A+ job from Rafael Stone.
New Orleans Pelicans
Now this one may come as a surprise to some but I see the vision here. Dyson Daniels wasn’t a steal of a pick, they got him at where he was projected to go but credit is still due for not overthinking it and just taking the player that best suits your team when you’re on the clock. Zion should be returning to this team, a team that includes CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram, and Jonas Valanciunas.
All four of those players already cemented are more than capable of getting buckets, any of them are 20+ candidates on any given night. To go out and draft a defensive-minded player who can play multiple positions and shoot seems like the ideal fit. In a league that is becoming more and more positionless it doesn’t matter if McCollum continues to play PG or move back to the 2, they drafted him a potential backcourt mate that really compliment him if he blossoms the way we think he can.
As a lifelong Michigan fan it pains me to say this but EJ Liddell could have been the steal of the draft. At pick #41 the Pelicans got a guy in Liddell who could provide something similar to what Grant Williams provided Boston, a player who can help stretch the floor and give high energy for the team. Liddell was mocked to be a 1st round pick so him falling this far was a massive steal for New Orleans. I think New Orleans has a draft class that deserves more recognition so I’ll give them their flowers.
San Antonio Spurs
We couldn’t expect the Spurs to be bad for too long, right? The Spurs made the playoffs in 22 straight seasons until the 2020 season. They’ve now come back down to earth but this draft class looks like it has the upside to start a proper rebuild and get them back to playoff basketball sooner rather than later.
Jeremy Sochan with the #9 pick just felt like a San Antonio pick. The Spurs have valued two-way players for as long as I can recall. Kawhi Leonard, Bruce Bowen, and even now with Dejuonte Murray. Sochan is a raw scorer still but has flashed some serious upside as a shooter and has such a high motor on defense that he will be an impact player no matter what.
This just feels like such a safe pick but with upside as well, a team like the Spurs who lack a roster that has an identity right now can definitely get behind a guy like this and try to become a defensive powerhouse going forward. I keep complimenting these Ohio State kids but Malaki Branham really was a great pick. The 19-year-old shot nearly 42% from the three and got much better as the season progressed. In the final 10 games of the season, we saw Beaham average 20.2 points per game on 56.6% shooting.
If that’s a sign of things to come, the Spurs got an absolute stud outside of the lottery. With their 3rd pick of the 1st round we saw San Antonio swing for the fences with Blake Wesley. Wesley is the riskiest of the three picks but the upside is undeniable. The 6’4 guard will likely have growing pains in the NBA but outside of distributing the ball and rebounding I don’t see many weaknesses in his game. Wesley can create his own shot, attack the rim and of course, play great defense. If even 2 of these 3 guys pan out then this is an A+ draft class for San Antonio.
The Average NBA Fan
Allow me to explain, I am one of the people who are happy we didn’t see Beal to the Celtics or Kyrie to the Lakers on draft night. Could they still happen? Most certainly, but as a fan of drama and not knowing who will be in the championship prior to the season I like when there are no “super teams”.
I understand that even when those types of teams are formed it is still no guarantee due to potential injuries or personal drama but I like the peace of mind of it not even being a possibility that we have a team significantly better than rest. The more teams that have realistic hope then the more fun it is for people.
We all at least once in our lives deserve to feel what it’s like to win a championship as a fan. I know Woj was hyping up the draft night like we every team was about to be completely reconstructed but I thought this season was fun.
The Warriors and Celtics were far from the Finals predictions we saw before the season. There was a point in time where you wouldn’t have been crazy saying the Bucks, Celtics, Nets, Heat, Suns or Warriors could win it all.
That’s more fun to watch in my opinion and I would like to think in the average NBA fans head. I love appreciating greatness even when it’s the same Finals every year but I like being surprised and seeing different players add to their legacies too. I could of just added a 5th team here (it probably would have been the Thunder) but I wanted to share that I’ve enjoyed the NBA’s unpredictability as of late and I hope it proceeds for as long as possible.
Josh has a knack for picking winning bets, and he specializes in the NFL, NBA, and MLB. As a lifelong Detroit sports fan, he has plenty of time on his hands during playoff season. You can follow him on Twitter at @ThatGuyBets.