It’s an annual pastime when it comes to drafts, with many looking to declare teams and players to be either winners or losers. While those answers won’t be known for a couple years (if not more, in some cases), below is an attempt to peg seven teams and players who did well for themselves Thursday night.
Among those winners are a talented distributor who went a little lower than expected, and two players whose off-court issues did not hurt their draft prospects in the end.
– Kyle Anderson (30th to San Antonio): There were some questions as to where Anderson would land, and as the first round moved towards its conclusion it looked as if the 6-foot-9 guard would still be on the board in the second round. But the reigning NBA champion Spurs grabbed Anderson with the final pick of the first round, meaning that not only will Anderson get a valuable guaranteed deal he’s also with a franchise that has consistently shown that it can develop talent.
– Utah Jazz (getting Dante Exum with the 5th pick): After the three players rated highest on most draft lists (Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid) were taken Orlando selected Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, allowing Utah to take the player it long coveted without having to give up anything. That’s a win.
– Doug McDermott (picked 11th by Denver; traded to Chicago): While Denver wouldn’t have been a bad spot for McDermott, his being traded to a franchise looking to make a run at a title is positive development for him. And one of his best skills, the ability to shoot, is something the Bulls can certainly use after struggling offensively last season.
– Mitch McGary (21st to Oklahoma City): McGary’s college career came to a premature end due in large part to a failed drug test during the NCAA tournament, and there were some concerns in the immediate aftermath that he could wind up in the second round. But McGary never slipped that far, as he was selected 21st overall by a franchise in Oklahoma City that has experienced a lot of success in recent years.
– P.J. Hairston (26th to Miami; traded to Charlotte): Hairston’s issues with NCAA rules resulted in his being ruled ineligible, leading to his having to take the D-League route to the NBA. The result: Hairston was selected by the Heat, becoming the first D-League product to go in the first round. His rights were then traded to Charlotte, but either way that’s not a bad end to a year that was anything but smooth.
– Canada: For the second consecutive year a Canadian was taken with the top overall pick, as Cleveland selected Andrew Wiggins. In total four Canadians were selected, and while that figure is disappointing (there were hopes that Melvin Ejim and Khem Birch would be taken in the second round), having the top pick two years in a row is a positive for hoops north of the border.
– UCLA and Michigan (three draft picks apiece): Just two programs can claim to have three players picked in the 2014 NBA Draft, with the Bruins seeing all three of theirs being selected in the first round. Leading the way in draft picks is a nice selling point for UCLA head coach Steve Alford and Michigan head coach John Beilein, especially with the July open recruiting periods right around the corner.