It’s the easiest call of the NBA draft: The San Antonio Spurs won.
That’s not to say other teams didn’t do very well on Thursday, when 58 players were selected as the league’s newest members. But the Spurs being able to take generational French talent Victor Wembanyama puts them at the head of the class.
Some of the teams that also did well: NBA champion Denver, Golden State, Toronto – even with just one pick – and Orlando, which might now be closer to returning to the postseason mix.
A breakdown of which teams had Excellent drafts, those that had Good drafts and others that will have to Wait and See:
Picks: Dereck Lively II (12, via trade); Olivier-Maxence Prosper (24, via trade).
Dallas got the big man it wanted and created opportunity by moving Davis Bertans. Hard to argue that it wasn’t a good night. And now free agency awaits. Prosper is another player with big potential and was extremely hard to guard at Marquette.
Picks: Julian Strawther (29), Jalen Pickett (32, will be acquired via trade), Hunter Tyson (37),
Pickett should have gone in the first round. He’s that good, and the NBA champions just got another do-it-all guy who will also serve as insurance should Bruce Brown leave in free agency.
Picks: Ausar Thompson (5), Marcus Sasser (25, via trade), James Nnaji (31)
No matter what, the Pistons were going to get better and deeper on Thursday night. Thompson is incredibly athletic (even by NBA standards) and plays defense with a ton of energy.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Picks: Brandin Podziemski (19), Trayce Jackson-Davis (57, via trade)
Play to your strength, and the Warriors got another shooter to add to the mix with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Podziemski could add something right away, and came to Golden State on the same day that the Warriors swung a deal for Chris Paul by sending Jordan Poole to Washington.
Picks: Amen Thompson (4), Cam Whitmore (20)
Thompson is a great move and gives Detroit another great option as it builds. If Whitmore is healthy, then Houston got an absolute steal by getting the Villanova forward at No. 20.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Picks: Cason Wallace (10, via trade), Keyontae Johnson (50)
Wallace was great for Kentucky in his lone college season and played perhaps his best game in the Wildcats’ finale in the NCAA tournament. He can score; he didn’t look to score quite often enough at times in college.
Picks: Anthony Black (6), Jett Howard (11)
Paolo Banchero got a couple more shooters to help him out, and the young and talented Magic got more young talent. An excellent night again and it’s time to start thinking about Orlando as a team that should make a run at the play-in – at minimum.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Picks: Victor Wembanyama (1), Sidy Cissoko (44).
Their grade was secured at the very moment that the last ping-pong ball appeared at the lottery last month. Wembanyama was a no-brainer, and now it’s up to the Spurs to start the real work – get him into the gym, see how he fits, and figure out what the plan is going forward.
Pick: Gradey Dick (13)
Dick showed up to the draft in a red-and-black jacket – a nod to Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” and his Kansas roots. The color scheme will work in Toronto as well. Dick is a pure shooter, and no team can have too many of those. The jury’s still out on what the Raptors will be this coming season, but this kid will be a rotation piece.
Picks: Taylor Hendricks (9), Keyonte George (16), Brice Sensabaugh (28)
Hendricks is what an NBA big pretty much is now; a power forward who can also defend centers. George was the Big 12 rookie of the year at Baylor and is a proven scorer. He’s good from the line, has 3-point potential and can get to the rim. There’s some work to do, but he’s a serious prospect.
Picks: Noah Clowney (21), Dariq Whitehead (22), Jalen Wilson (51)
Clowney is an athletic big from Alabama whose game is still a bit unfinished. Whitehead has enormous potential and was highly recruited by Duke, but foot issues are a concern. Wilson was the Big 12 player of the year at Kansas. The Nets likely didn’t choose three elite programs accidentally. Lot to like here.
Picks: Brandon Miller (2), Nick Smith Jr. (27), Amari Bailey (41).
Miller made sense over Scoot Henderson because the Hornets have a point guard already. But Henderson might be the more NBA-ready player.
Picks: Jarace Walker (8, via trade), Ben Sheppard (26), Julian Strawther (29), Mojave King (47, via trade), Isaiah Wong (55)
Walker plays hard on both ends, and this is rare to say, but he might play harder on defense than he does on offense. And getting Wong – the ACC player of the year – so late is a steal.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Picks: Kobe Brown (30), Jordan Miller (48)
Brown is a strong player, addicted to rebounding, and probably needs to improve considerably on the offensive end. Miller did a little of everything for the Miami Hurricanes in their run to the Final Four.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Picks: Jalen Hood-Schifino (17), Maxwell Lewis (40, via trade).
Hood-Schifino got NBA coaching in college last season; Indiana is coached by Mike Woodson. He’s a winner; his high school teams won, his Indiana team went to the NCAA Tournament and he’ll obviously benefit from time with LeBron James.
Pick: Jaime Jaquez Jr. (18)
A four-year college player whose game got more complete each year, Jaquez has a notorious work ethic that should fit in quite well with the Eastern Conference champions.
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Pick: Jordan Hawkins (14)
Hawkins was a big part of UConn’s team that won the national title last spring, earning his way onto the All-Tournament team. New Orleans got a winner.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
Picks: Scoot Henderson (3), Kris Murray (23), Rayan Rupert (43).
Henderson has shown that he’s NBA-ready. The Blazers drafted well. But really, the only question now is whether Damian Lillard is happy or not. Murray is the twin brother of Sacramento’s Keegan Murray and had a big season for Iowa – averaging just over 20 points per game.
Picks: Bilal Coulibaly (7, via trade), Tristan Vukcevic (42)
The Wizards are starting over, and on the day they also agreed to acquire Jordan Poole from Golden State they just happened to get a French player. (No, not that one.) But Coulibaly is highly touted by No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama, and that’s enough of an endorsement for us.
WAIT AND SEE
Picks: Kobe Bufkin (15), Mouhamed Gueye (39, via trade), Seth Lundy (46)
Bufkin had a great second half of the season at Michigan, and left-handers always provide defenses with an extra challenge. The best way to describe his game is this: He doesn’t do much wrong. Very solid, can help the Hawks in a lot of ways.
Picks: James Njaji (31, via trade), Jordan Walsh (38, via trade)
Still only 18, Njaji started playing the game about seven years ago and is not even close to reaching his potential yet. Big prospect.
Pick: Julian Phillips (35, via trade)
The Bulls had to forfeit what would have been their pick because of free-agency violations last summer, and swung a deal with Boston to land the Tennessee wing.
Pick: Emoni Bates (49)
He was touted as a star since basically middle school, had more than his share of promising moments in college, and now has to really prove himself.
Picks: Gregory Jackson II (45), Tarik Biberovic (56)
Prospects. They’re not expected to provide any real help anytime soon.
Picks: Andre Jackson (36, via trade), Chris Livingston (58)
Jackson was a big part of UConn’s national championship. He’s only going to benefit from being around Giannis Antetokounmpo every day.
Picks: Leonard Miller (33, via trade), Jaylen Clark (53)
Miller had a lot of big moments playing with Scoot Henderson and the G League Ignite this past season. Athleticism is tough to ignore.
NEW YORK KNICKS
Pick: Toumani Camara (52)
Given the trades that they’re making, this might be one of their last picks for quite some time. There’s nothing wrong with not valuing the draft, but giving up on it entirely is a dangerous game to play too often.
Picks: Colby Jones (34, via trade), Jalen Slawson (54)
Jones has skills the Kings crave; great shooter, great passing and great vision. A young Kevin Huerter-type in those regards.