NBA Draft 2014: The Winners and Losers
The first NBA Draft of the Adam Silver era has come and gone and for the new commish, it was a rousing success. Now that the draft is over, the calendar year of tanking for the best picks in the next one can begin again. It’s like December 26 for the teams trapped at the bottom of the standings (looking at you, Sacramento, and you Philadelphia).
Now that the draft is past, we can take an early look at who won and who lost. Since the draft is about acquiring new talent, there shouldn’t really be any losers, but there normally are. Fans of those teams shouldn’t worry, though. They’ll have another chance next year.
Winner: Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks win simply because they had the second pick in the draft and they ended up with the guy who should have gone No. 1. Jabari Parker is a more NBA-ready player than Andrew Wiggins, someone who was a vocal leader a season ago on a veteran Duke team and managed to average over 19 points a game in the flow of Coach K’s share-the-ball offense.
The consensus seems to be that Wiggins has a higher ceiling because of his off-the-charts athleticism, and, while it’s true that the former Kansas star has a leg up on Parker in that department, the gap is far less vast than most people seem to think. Parker has more than enough athleticism to thrive in the Association and in my mind he’s the better player now AND in the future.
Coupled with the fact that the Chicago native seemed genuinely excited to play in Milwaukee (not a whole lot of stars, clamoring to play there, are there?), this seems like a pairing that will work exceptionally well together. Throw in the Bucks upside pick of French star Damian Inglis and the Bucks were a big winner Thursday.
(Feel free to throw this analysis in my face when Wiggins is the face of the league in six years).
Loser: High Fashion
Players have worn bad outfits to the draft before. Mocking outlandish wardrobe choices has become as much a part of the draft process as Jay Bilas raving about wingspan or Cleveland picking first (sorry Cavs fans). But Andrew Wiggins took bad draft outfits to a level rarely seen before, arriving in a black suit with white flowers drawn onto it. Wow.
Winner: Doug McDermott
McDermott landed in by far the best situation out of any of the 14 lottery picks. He joins a Bulls team that has been a perennial playoff team over the last six years and is known for its chemistry and veteran leadership. In college at Creighton, McDermott scored the fifth-most points in the history of Division I basketball and that was while he was being shadowed by two and sometimes three defenders.
When he plays in Chicago, he won’t have to carry a team night after night. Instead, his only responsibility will be to spread the floor and drain as many open threes as he possibly can. This was a need pick for the Bulls, as they have struggled creating offense in the past two years without Derrick Rose. McDermott has the potential to fill some of that need and contribute for a contender immediately.
Loser: Julius Randle
A lot has been made of the fact that the Lakers haven’t drafted as high as they did Thursday night since 1982 (picking James Worthy No. 1 overall), but if anyone is expecting Randle to be the second-best player on multiple championship teams like Big Game James, they need to give up the dream.
Randle was a solid college player, and a double-double machine but he wasn’t a dominating force down low at Kentucky and he certainly won’t be one in the NBA. He doesn’t have the size or athleticism to be a franchise-altering forward as I’m sure many in Los Angeles are expecting him to be. For the highest Lakers draft pick in 30-odd years, his ceiling is relatively low, especially compared to how impatient Laker fans will expect him to perform. Add the fact that he has to play with a Kobe, who still believes he can carry the Lakers to a title, even though it isn’t remotely true anymore and this isn’t a great situation for a rookie big man with a foot injury.
Winner: Isaiah Austin
Austin, a 7-foot-1 center out of Baylor was once considered a first-round talent, but his basketball career was cut short last week when he was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder that effects the body’s connective tissue. He can no longer play competitive basketball due to the extreme risk of his heart rupturing.
However, between the 15th and 16th picks, Commissioner Adam Silver made a special announcement, calling Austin, who was the Commish’s guest at the Draft, to the podium so that the 20 year old could fulfill his dream of hearing his name announced on draft day. Austin’s name titles this section, but everyone who witnessed this moment was a real winner, especially those in attendance who gave the “pick” a standing ovation.
Photo Credit: Getty