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Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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(OPINION) NBA Draft Winners and Losers

(OPINION) NBA Draft Winners and Losers

 

 

EAST LANSING- With the NBA Draft now in the books, the newest crop of promising young talent worldwide has made it to the big stage. During the first-ever two day NBA Draft special, some teams made some great moves to advance the direction of their franchise further while others made some questionable decisions. Through trades and selections alike, let’s dive right in and look at some of the biggest winners and losers of the 2024 NBA Draft, though drama could come fast with free agency just around the corner. 

 

Winner: Los Angeles Lakers

 

Did you expect any other team to kick off this list? The Lakers made out like bandits in Brooklyn on Wednesday, landing an arguable top-10  talent in this draft in Dalton Knecht at No. 17. The former Tennessee Volunteer fell due to concerns over being an older prospect but lands in one of the best win-now environments for a player of his skillset. Knecht established himself as one of the best pure scorers in this draft and will indisputably make his presence felt in Los Angeles quickly as a scoring punch off the bench for new head coach JJ Redick.  In the second round, the Lakers made history by taking Bronny James, with LeBron and Bronny James being the first father-son duo in the NBA at the same time. Drafting Bronny confirms that the 39-year-old LeBron, who is set to be a free agent, will return to the City of Angels and likely retire as a Laker. The Lakers prioritized both their present and future in this draft, and picking up D’Angelo Russell’s option makes a good offseason so far even better for the Lake Show.

 

 

Loser: Miami Heat

 

Going into the draft and just a season removed from an appearance in the NBA Finals, the Heat wanted to build on their first-round exit at the hands of the eventual champion Boston Celtics. Just days after signing Bam Adebayo to a three-year, $165 million extension, Miami set its sight on another big man with their first-round pick, drafting former Indiana standout Kel’El Ware at No. 15. With more win-now prospects such as Dalton Knecht, Jared McCain, and Ja’Kobe Walter still available, this selection is puzzling. Ware is a good player, though was probably not the best selection for what Miami needed. However, Pelle Larson, Miami’s second-rounder via trade, shot 42.6% from deep last season with Arizona and should contribute to an Eric Spoelstra led Heat team with a surplus of shooting talent as is. This draft was not bad by any means but missing out on Knecht is a crucial missed opportunity for the Heat. 

 

Winner: Utah Jazz

 

Slowly but surely becoming home to one of the most exciting young nuclei in the NBA, the Jazz only added to the excitement on draft night. Landing former Duke standout Kyle Filipowski in the second round is an impeccable value pick and among the best value selections of the entire draft. Cody Williams shot 41.5% from three-point land in his freshman season at Colorado, at No. 10 overall, Williams landed in an incredible situation for his development. At only 19 years old, Williams should be a key piece of Will Hardy’s Utah team for years to come, especially after quickly turning heads in the Pac-12 a season ago. However, Utah’s second pick of night one might prove the most fruitful of their entire draft class. USC’s Isaiah Collier was one of the best players in the country coming out of high school and had a standout season for a USC team that struggled mightily despite their lofty preseason expectations. Collier is only 19 and has plenty of development ahead of him, but shockingly slipped to No. 29. Collier should be a crucial add for this youthful Jazz roster, especially with offensive potential and a stout defense. Danny Ainge, you did it again, the future is only getting brighter in Salt Lake City. 

 

Loser: Memphis Grizzlies 

 

With Jaren Jackson manning the five down in Memphis, the Grizzlies’ biggest need heading into the offseason was adding a bonafide center of the future to take pressure off of Jackson Jr on the inside. Memphis drafted polarizing Purdue star Zach Edey with the No. 9 pick. The Grizzlies panicked here a bit, as it was a poorly kept secret that Taylor Jenkins and company wanted UConn’s Donovan Clingan, who the Trail Blazers drafted at No. 7. Edey is a solid center, as he has size and interior skills that will no doubt translate to the NBA, but drafting the two-time Naismith Player of the Year in the top-10 is a bit rich. This was a stacked center class, with the likes of Yves Missi, Kel’El Ware, and Kyle Filipowski available for Memphis, but drafting Edey over Ware, who is arguably a better scheme fit, is a questionable decision. To Memphis’ credit, landing former UConn sharpshooter Cam Spencer at the tail end of the second round is immaculate draft value, as Spencer could be a great rotational piece for a competitive team like the Grizzlies are at full strength. The Grizzlies still have a competitive roster, but their draft did not make them much better, if at all. 

 

Winner: Minnesota Timberwolves

 

Staying in the Western Conference, the Timberwolves wanted to build on their strong season and attempt to get over the hump in a loaded conference.  With an already-dazzling nucleus centered around Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Rudy Gobert, head coach Chris Finch and president of basketball operations Tim Connelly looked to the long-term. After striking with a trade with the Spurs for a pick swap in 2030 and a 2031 first-round pick, the Wolves landed their point guard of the future in Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham. This was a magnificent acquisition for the Timberwolves, as they acquired one of the best guards in this draft and did not have to part with a lot of meaningful draft capital to do so. The 19-year-old shot 44.4% from deep and 47.5% from the floor in his lone season in Lexington, showing potential as one of the best scorers in the country and in this draft class. With Mike Conley getting older, Dillingham and Edwards will make a scary backcourt for years to come in the Twin Cities. The Timberwolves also drafted former Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr later on Wednesday night, suring up their point guard depth and adding another great scorer at a bargain. Between Shannon Jr and Dillingham, Minnesota’s long-term point guard play just got a whole lot better, with both value finds going to play crucial roles for a contending Wolves team from the jump. 

 

Loser: Atlanta Hawks

 

It is rare to see a team be considered losers of the draft after possessing the top pick, but this rare occurrence is what happened in Atlanta. After a long offseason where Alexandre Sarr was considered the runaway favorite to be the first overall selection, it was the other standout Frenchman, Zacharie Risacher, who general manager Landry Fields settled on with the first pick. After the draft, it was reported that Sarr refused to work out for the Hawks and instead preferred to play for the Washington Wizards, which put the big-man-needy Hawks in a precarious position. Risacher was a standout for JL Bourg, turning heads during their playoff run, but is still one of the weaker top picks in recent memory. To make matters worse for the Hawks, 20-year-old AJ Griffin, who the Hawks drafted in the first round in 2022, was traded to the Rockets while gaining just a second-round pick in return. The trade sent one of the Hawks’ more promising young talents to Houston but was not Atlanta’s biggest trade of the week. On Friday, an even bigger move happened down in the A, as Dejounte Murray was traded to the Pelicans for two first-round picks, Dyson Daniels, and Larry Nance Jr. After the Nets got five first-rounders for Mikal Bridges, only landing two first-round draft picks for Murray is a disappointment in itself. The Hawks had some serious retooling to be done this offseason, but calling that retool a success would be a bit of a stretch, though Risacher should still have a decent career. 

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