Nothin' but Net: Draft Night Winners and Losers
By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Normally, after nights as wild as Thursday's NBA Draft, your head hurts, your stomach is queasy and your memory is blank.
No, there was no Miller Lite on Thursday, but this draft was dizzying. What it lacked in quality, it made up for in entertainment. The unpredictability was legendary.
It started with the first pick, went through an Atlantic Division blockbuster, and even voyaged one year into the future.
It was a scene. Now, it's time for judgement.
1. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
Sam Hinkie hit the ground running, didn't he? The new Sixers GM traded 23- year-old All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday for the rights to Nerlens Noel, a guy most thought would go No. 1 overall. They also tabbed Michael Carter- Williams with the 11th pick and got a protected first-rounder in next year's draft from New Orleans. That is gold currency in what will be a spectacular draft a year from now.
Holiday is very good, but won't be great. Noel could be a difference maker defensively, and sign me up for a 6-foot-5 point guard with great play-making skills.
The Sixers shed about $34 million in payroll and will have four picks, all most likely in the top 11, in two years. That's how you rebuild a franchise going absolutely nowhere.
2. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
C.J. McCollum will be one of the most productive players in this draft. The Blazers can pair him with reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard and watch the ball go flying through the net.
What made the Blazers' night so amazing was the haul they took home in the second round. Allen Crabbe should've been a first-rounder. He can shoot the lights out. Jeff Withey is a perfect fit for Portland if J.J. Hickson bolts in free agency. If he doesn't, the Blazers added depth to the worst bench in the league by miles.
3. ANTHONY BENNETT
The UNLV tweener was the shocking first overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Most thought Noel or even Alex Len from Maryland, but it was Bennett.
If he develops the way he should, Bennett could become the best overall player in the draft. It seems his best position will be power forward, but imagine him running the pick and roll with Kyrie Irving for the next however many years and Cleveland fans should get mildly giddy.
4. STEVEN ADAMS
The Oklahoma City Thunder were the perfect team for Adams. He is nowhere near ready for the NBA, but the Thunder don't need him to be for a little while. The Thunder utilize the D-League as good as any team in the NBA and Adams can improve there without being depended on for anything for the Thunder.
5. BROOKLYN NETS
The Nets acquired Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry for a slew of semi-usable parts and three future first-round picks. Will the Nets improve on their fourth-place finish in the East this past season? Maybe not with the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls around, but the Nets are better equipped to contend in a series with any of those teams now.
Plus, Garnett, Pierce and Terry will all come off the books before Gerald Wallace's $10 million per season deal will and he got shipped to Boston in the trade. This is actually a pretty solid move for Brooklyn, especially when you have an owner willing to spend over the luxury tax.
1. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS
My word, what is this team, and Michael Jordan especially, doing? Cody Zeller at four is such a reach, only Jordan and the Bobcats would ever try it.
The Charlotte fans went crazy when they found out Zeller was the pick. They booed, they chanted "Jordan sucks." It was all so hilarious if it wasn't so sad.
Zeller is a decent prospect, but with Noel and McLemore on the board, he had no business going No. 4. He did and the Bobcats fans won't forgive him, even though it had nothing to do with him.
Par for the course for Michael - the greatest player ever and maybe the worst executive ever.
2. INDIANA PACERS
The Pacers have had a history of taking lesser-known players who developed into All-Stars like Danny Granger and Paul George.
Last year they took Miles Plumlee from Duke way too early. This year, they did the same with Solomon Hill from Arizona. He's one of these guys that does everything decently, but nothing well enough to distinguish himself at this level.
Indiana could actually use some bench help. Some of their second unit, which wasn't all that great to begin with, could leave via free agency. The Pacers had a chance to bolster that group and whiffed.
3. NERLENS NOEL
Most thought he was still going No. 1 overall to the Cavs, but he slid all the way down to No. 6 and the Pelicans. Worse yet, Zeller and Len both went ahead of him.
Then, Noel gets shipped to the 76ers, who are going to be epically bad next season. He won't play until Christmas at the earliest. His best hope is that the Sixers plan to get loaded in this and next year's drafts works.
Otherwise, Noel had a rough night on Thursday.
4. RICKY LEDO
Never heard of him? Don't worry, he didn't play in college last season, but the reason he made this list - I swear, I think he was traded four times on Thursday. That has to be some kind of a whirlwind.
5. BILL SIMMONS
Sports Guy gets a bad rap sometimes. Yes, he's a little overmatched in these TV gigs, but he's new to it and does know the game. On Thursday, Simmons has to first endure his beloved Boston Celtics disbanding and totally rebuilding.
Then, Shelley Smith does him no favors when, interviewing new Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who bolted from Boston, brought up Simmons' comments about Rivers. Simmons basically said he quit on the Celtics.
Rivers called him an idiot. Instead of having a reasonable back and forth, Simmons had to respond on national television after one of the classiest and best coaches calls him out. Simmons made valid points because Rivers has hemmed and hawed on his reasons for leaving Boston.
Simmons' shtick can grate and he wasn't great during the season for ABC, but he'll get better.
07/01 08:44:25 ET