NBA Draft Winners and Losers: Who Moves into or Drops out of Playoffs Next Year?
The goal of the NBA draft is different for certain teams. While everyone is trying to draft the best players on the board, especially ones who fit in with the systems employed by their team, the contenders' goals are to remain in contention for a title while the lottery teams want to move up into the playoffs.
With only 16 spots in the playoffs, not everyone can meet those goals. After all, there are 30 teams competing for the spots.
So, which teams moved into contention for a coveted berth in the postseason and which dropped out?
Winner: Cleveland Cavaliers
Zeller is a well-rounded seven-footer from North Carolina who immediately becomes the best true center on this Cavs squad. I'd be shocked if he wasn't in the starting lineup alongside Anderson Varejao by the All-Star break.
No, I'm not forgetting about someone named Tristan Thompson.
With the addition of two more contributing pieces and the expected growth of Irving into one of the league's elite floor generals, a playoff run could be in store for the Cavs.
Loser: Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic weren't able to deal Dwight Howard for new pieces to the puzzle (not yet at least) and they didn't add anyone who can immediately contribute to the cause.
It's worth noting that this inclusion is in fact operating under the assumption that D12 ends up on another team. As long as he's in Orlando, the Magic will be a factor in the postseason.
The Magic seemed to be drafting under that same assumption, seeing as they drafted two big men. Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn are both prospects that I like quite a bit, but they're both coming from small schools to the big show and will need to endure an adjustment period.
Winner: Washington Wizards
Everything that the Washington Wizards have done lately has been working towards the goal of making the playoffs at the conclusion of the 2012-2013 regular season. If there's any team here who can work its way into the postseason, it's the Wizards.
First, they swapped JaVale McGee for Nene Hilario, giving up the volatile high-upside player for the steady veteran. Then they managed to provide more frontcourt depth by getting rid of Rashard Lewis for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza.
Completing the shift in culture from unpredictable athletes to quality basketball players, the Wizards drafted Bradley Beal at No. 3.
Loser: Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks won't be on this list if they can land Deron Williams in free agency, but it seems as though they're preparing to enter rebuilding mode after trading the rights to Tyler Zeller away to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for a few lower draft picks.
Dallas reached for Jared Cunningham in the first round—quite a bit earlier than he should have been taken off the board—and then compounded the mistake in the second round. Bernard James isn't a good fit for the Mavs, even if Jae Crowder could turn into a steal and make up for the earlier mistakes.
With an aging roster getting even older, Dallas failed to address the guard problem with a more NBA-ready prospect than Cunningham, something they could have done by drafting and keeping Marquis Teague, Tyshawn Taylor or Tony Wroten.
Winner: Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings made one of the best picks in the draft when they snatched up Thomas Robinson, who had fallen right into their laps at No. 5 after unexpectedly slipping past the Charlotte Bobcats at No. 2 and the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 4.
Robinson is one of the most NBA-ready players in this draft and should become a double-double machine from day one. He's that physical, athletic, quick and strong.
Alongside DeMarcus Cousins, Robinson could help the team win the rebounding battle each and every single game while drawing so much of the defensive attention that the army of guards appears better than they actually are.
If Tyreke Evans is traded for a quality small forward, this team becomes even more of a playoff contender than they already are with the addition of Robinson.
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