Early Returns: Winners and Losers of the 2010 NBA Draft

James Brown@@chasingballgameSenior Analyst IJune 25, 2010

NEW YORK - JUNE 24:  John Wall of Kentucky stands with NBA Commisioner David Stern after being drafted with the first pick by The Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden on June 24, 2010 in New York, New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Winners and Losers of the 2010 NBA Draft

The NBA draft kicked off on Thursday and it should become a prelude to the biggest free-agent bonanza in NBA history.  The teams gathered in their war rooms and came up with a plan to make themselves better for 2011 as they all race towards a championship.

Here is a look at this year’s winners and losers in the 2010 NBA draft:

Winners

Washington Wizards: Anytime you grab the No. 1 pick in the draft your team will become an automatic winner unless they really botch things up.  The Wizards grabbed John Wall—the best player in the draft—and automatically became a winner. However they raised the bar even higher by becoming trade partners with the Bulls as they try to make cap room for a run at LeBron James and another All-Star. By doing so they also loaded up with talent by getting Kevin Seraphin and Kirk Hinrich, who will serve as a mentor and a great teammate to Wall. The Wizards then traded Lazar Hayward and Nemanja Bjelica to the T-Wolves for the No. 23 overall Trevor Booker. Plenty of first-round talent and being active all night long make the Wizards a winner on draft night. See the latest odds for the Wizards to win the NBA Championship.

Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder were a quality young basketball team last year and they just got better in the draft. They traded up with the Hornets and grabbed Cole Aldrich, a big center out of Kansas that can defend and rebound.  They know they need size to compete with the elite in the West.  They drafted Eric Bledsoe out of Kentucky and the recent rumors have him being shipped to the Clippers for a future first round, giving them depth in years to come in the draft. They drafted Craig Brackens and Quincy Pondexter to finish the deal with the Hornets and come out smelling like a rose.  They managed to draft quality players that can affect the team now and stay active in the trade market planning for the future. That makes them winners in my book. See the latest odds for the Thunder to win the West.

New Jersey Nets: With a team this bad how could the draft not be a good one? Mikhail Prokhorov made his first draft a good one and took a gamble right away by grabbing Derrick Favors over DeMarcus Cousins. Just before the draft the knock on Cousins is that he wanted to get paid and did not have the maturity to play in the NBA at 19. Favors is talented enough to make people forget Cousins and is one of the best athletes in the draft. He will need some time to grow but the Nets will not be contenders over night. They then dealt their next two picks to the Hawks to get Damion James. He is a solid transition scorer that plays consistent defense and is a senior and brings some level of maturity to the Nets. Overall a winning night for the Nets in the draft. See the latest odds on the Nets to win the East.

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Losers

Chicago Bulls: Talk about a team that is putting all of their eggs in one basket. They become automatic winners if they win the free-agent sweepstakes and get LeBron James and another player like Chris Bosh, but for now they are losers. They dumped players and are all about clearing cap space, basically ignoring the draft and making a push for the King.  Even though they are clearing cap space, however, they have not moved Luol Deng and current trade rumors have him going to Orlando in a deal.  Until that happens, though, they stay in the losers bracket. See the latest odds for the Chicago Bulls to land LeBron James.

Boston Celtics: Danny Ainge talked a big talk and the hype was large coming into this draft. He talked about making a run for the championship now. Rumors surfaced about trading Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace retiring (he confirmed tonight). Then instead of trading their pick, the Celtics stay at 19 and draft Avery Bradley, a point guard? Avery Bradley is a talented young player and I am sure he will have a fine career in the NBA, but this is not a pick that screams win right now. The Celtics followed that up with Luke Harangody out of Notre Dame.  While it seems fitting, it is just another reach for this team. See the latest odds for the Celtics to win the Championship in 2011.

New Orleans Hornets: Chris Paul talked this week abut how his team has to show they want to win or he would not be against going to another team. Instead they come out and draft a big man in Aldrich (the Hornets need size) and promptly trade him. In exchange they get Craig Brackins (who was drafted way too early) and Quincy Pondexter, who may surprise but really only had one standout year in college. The only way this team becomes a winner now is to trade Chris Paul and build for the future. See the latest odds on the Hornets to win the NBA Championship.

The draft may be over, but the NBA still has plenty of excitement left in the free-agent market this summer, and only after the dust settles will we truly see who were the winners and losers in the NBA summer of 2010.