We have had a week now to digest the NBA Draft and a wild Thursday night that saw surprising picks and even more surprising trades. Summer League is kicking off and we will start to get a look at how these Draft picks begin to fit together.
So who had the early returns from the Draft? A list of our winners and losers on Draft night:
Winner: Washington Wizards
Believe it or not, and it can be kind of hard to believe with some of the seasons the Wizards have had recently, the Wizards finished the last half of the season 19-18. In the Eastern Conference, that is good enough to get you into the Playoffs. So when the Wizards won the third overall pick, they figured to be getting a pretty solid and strong piece.
Otto Porter fits the definition of solid and strong. He is one of those jack-of-all-trade, master-of-none players that teams sometimes shy away from. But with John Walla nd Bradley Beal already in place, Porter moving into a supporting role early on is a strong spot to be in.
With the veterans on the Wizards' roster, they have to be considered an even bigger threat to make the Playoffs this season out of the East.
Loser: Philadelphia 76ers
Well, maybe this depends on where you are coming from with the Sixers. If the goal was to get into the Andrew Wiggins/Jabari Parker sweepstakes in the 2014 Draft, then mission accomplished. That means Philadelphia fans will have legitimate reasons to boo, not that they did not have that before. In trading away Jrue Holiday, the team that finished with the 26th best offense by offensive rating let its lone All Star and leading scorer (at 17.7 points per game and 8.0 assists per game) walk.
In return, the 76ers got Nerlens Noel and three future picks. True, Noel is considered to be the most talented player in the Draft and has the most potential upside. But a year after acquiring Andrew Bynum and his troublesome knee, it makes very little sense to trade away an All Star for the second straight year for a big man with a bad knee.
It seems like the Sixers are putting a lot of faith in the ping pong balls bouncing their way next year. Philadelphia is looking pretty awful for the 2014 season.
In fairness to Philadelphia, our colleague Ed Isaacson of NBA Draft Blog thinks the Sixers made a good investment in their future with the Noel pick. Maybe I am just not as much of a believer in Noel as others.
Winner: Utah Jazz
When the Jazz entered Draft night, they probably did not have any idea they would lose both Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson in free agency. They also probably did not foresee acquiring the Warriors' band of cast offs in their quest to clear cap room. What they did foresee, was a need to hit the reset button some and re-establish themselves a bit.
In acquiring Trey Burke from the Timberwolves, the Jazz may have picked up the best point guard in the Draft. Burke might be an All-Star caliber player in the future, but he represents a very solid piece of the team's future. One worth having in place as the Jazz move forward.
Another key piece is to have a strong front line. With Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter in place, the Jazz have that front court in place. But adding inriguing French youngster Rudy Gobert, makes things even more interesting. He is long and has a ton of potential to grow and get some more polish. He is in a situation where he can grow some and Utah is building a very strong front court.
Loser: Phoenix Suns
The Suns had the worst record in the Western Conference last year and needed a strong Draft pick to get at least some of the way back. One player, particularly in this Draft was not going to replace the impact left behind from Steve Nash. However, almost everyone universally agrees that Alex Len was the wrong pick.
Whether it was ESPN.com or CBS Sports or NBA Draft Blog, no analyst seems particularly enamored with what this freshman from Maryland can do. Everyon except Len's agent. He did enough to sell the freshman from Maryland and get him selected in the top 10.
Now, it feels more like Phoenix is stuck with him rather than an actual piece to the puzzle was found.