Biggest Winners and Losers from 2020 NBA Draft Night

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2020

Biggest Winners and Losers from 2020 NBA Draft Night

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    We had to wait an extra five months to get here, but the 2020 NBA draft is officially in the rearview.

    After a relatively quiet lottery that didn't deviate too far from mock drafts, teams started slinging picks around like hot potatoes.

    Keeping everything straight required Alan Garner-in-Vegas-level focus. Once the dust (and picks) settled, though, the winners and losers from the draft became more clear.

    Predicting long-term outcomes immediately after the draft is an annual exercise fraught with peril, but that won't scare Andy Bailey and Jonathan Wasserman away.

Winner: Detroit Pistons

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Giving up Luke Kennard for the No. 19 pick felt like selling way too low. They just used the No. 12 pick on him three years ago. And though he was injured for much of this past season, he averagedΒ 15.8 points and showed good feel in the pick-and-roll.

    But the Detroit Pistons are now very much in the midst of a full-scale, tear-it-down, Process-like rebuild. And the three players they added to it on Wednesday are more than intriguing.

    Killian Hayes came into the draft as the top prospect for The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, thanks to his size (6'5") and feel as a playmaker. The 19-year-old has a wise-beyond-his-years approach to the pick-and-roll, deft passing ability and at least one good shooting indicator (a near-90 free-throw percentage).

    Later in the first round, they landed Isaiah Stewart, a wide-bodied 5 who can dominate the offensive glass and protect the paint on the other end.Β Saddiq Bey, a multipositional forward who shot 45.1 percent from three this past season, rounded out the haul.

    Those three with Sekou Doumbouya gives Detroit much more long-term potential than it has had in years.

    β€”Bailey

Loser: Minnesota Timberwolves

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    James Crisp/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Timberwolves were looking to trade right until the clock was running out at No. 1. They clearly didn't have great confidence in any of the perceived No. 1 overall candidates.

    But the Wolves couldn't find a trade partner, mostly because no other team seemed willing to give up assets for Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman or LaMelo Ball. So Minnesota settled on Edwards, who shot 40.2 percent from the floor and whose Georgia Bulldogs finished in the 13th place among 14 teams in the SEC.

    While there is no denying Edwards' talent, there are questions about his potential to apply and maximize it. How will he perform as a No. 3 option in an unfamiliar off-ball role? He struggled as a spot-up shooter at Georgia and produced most when given a green light to fire contested pull-ups.

    β€”Wasserman

Winner: James Wiseman

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    Karen Pulfer Focht/Associated Press

    Eligibility problems limited James Wiseman to just three NCAA games, leaving his draft stock vulnerable and scouting questions unanswered. A year later, he's the projected starting center for the Golden State Warriors, who took him with No. 2 pick.

    Wiseman couldn't have landed in a more favorable spot for his development. In Golden State, he gets to play to his strengths as a finisher alongside Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Meanwhile, the Warriors will value his frontcourt athleticism and rim protection.

    He'll play key minutes and likely earn playoff experience as a rookie without having too heavy of a workload in the offense. Eventually, the Warriors will be banking on him to become a bigger focal point with his post scoring and shooting, but Wiseman shouldn't have any pressure to do too much early.

    β€”Wasserman

Loser: Draft Trackers

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Prior to the draft, there was an awful lot of chatter about trades involving lottery picks. Each of the top four teamsβ€”the Timberwolves, Warriors, Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bullsβ€”and various other squads from Nos. 5-14 were connected to rumors.

    Then, all of that sort of vanished over the first 60 to 90 minutes of the draft. Moderate slides for Deni Avdija (No. 9 pick) and Tyrese Haliburton (No. 12 pick) were the big early stories of the night. Other than that, trade-free mock drafts were looking pretty good.

    Then, all of the sudden, the post-lottery portion of the first round hit and picks started flying everywhere. Keeping track of all the movement was borderline impossible.

    The Knicks made multiple trades with multiple picks. Luke Kennard wound up on the Los Angeles Clippers, while Landry Shamet went to the Brooklyn Nets. The Philadelphia 76ers sent Josh Richardson to the Dallas Mavericks for Seth Curry and a second-round pick. Tony Bradley was shipped to the Detroit Pistons from the Utah Jazz for a second-rounder. The Memphis Grizzlies acquired the 30th pick from the Boston Celtics to take Desmond Bane.

    No huge names were moved during the draft, but there was plenty of roster rearranging.

    β€”Bailey

Winner: Charlotte Hornets

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    Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

    At No. 3, the Charlotte Hornets drafted Bleacher Report's No. 1 overall prospect in LaMelo Ball, who'll immediately help the NBA's No. 28 offense.

    Passing translates, and Ball was on pace to finish second in the NBL in assists as a teenager. He's a special playmaker with unique 6'7" size for a lead ball-handler. And though there are questions about his shooting, he'll benefit from playing alongside Devonte' Graham and P.J. Washington.

    No player in the draft possesses more star power than Ball, and he'll have Michael Jordan on speed dial to help channel it.

    β€”Wasserman

Winner: Philadelphia 76ers, Loser: Houston Rockets

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Just over a month after 2017-18 Executive of the Year Daryl Morey left the Houston Rockets with Russell Westbrook's contract and a mostly barren cupboard of draft assets, he somehow managed to overhaul and address every Philadelphia 76ers weakness in one day.

    Before the draft, he unloaded the ill-fitting Al Horford to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson. Morey had to attach draft picks (a 2025 top-six protected first-round pick and the No. 34 pick this year) and the rights to Vasilije Micic to get OKC to take that contract, but it was worth it to get rid of a pact that was previously thought to be an albatross.

    Then, during the draft, Philly landed one of the game's best shooters, Seth Curry, for Josh Richardson and the No. 36 pick. It also drafted Tyrese Maxey, a top-10 scouting prospect in the class, at No. 21.

    By the end of the draft, the Sixers had a presumed starting five of Curry, Green, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid. Up-and-coming defender Matisse Thybulle is still around to come off the bench too.

    That lineup fits Simmons and Embiid far better than the one that surrounded those two in 2019-20. Green and Curry will space the floor. And Harris makes much more sense as a 4 than he does as a 3 in today's NBA.

    Even without a blockbuster James Harden trade, the 76ers became a far more modern contender in the Eastern Conference.

    Morey's old team, on the other hand, didn't end up with a player drafted in the first 50 picks and was left stewing over whether it should trade Harden and Russell Westbrook.

    β€”Bailey

Winner: Sacramento Kings

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    Matthew Putney/Associated Press

    The Sacramento Kings couldn't have expected to get a chance to draft Tyrese Haliburton. Aside from having a strong best-player-available case at No. 12, he is a puzzle-piece fit alongside De'Aaron Fox.

    While Fox brings the downhill attacking and explosives Haliburton lacks, the rookie complements Fox with special passing IQ and spot-up shooting.

    Though the Kings have athletes and stat players, Haliburton is an impact player capable of influencing games without needing ball-dominant dribbles or volume shots.

    β€”Wasserman

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    Stats via NBA.com and Sports Reference unless otherwise noted.Β