It’s the easiest call in the NBA Draft: The San Antonio Spurs won.
That’s not to say other teams didn’t do particularly well on Thursday, when 58 players were selected as the league’s newest members. But the fact that Spurs are able to take French generational 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 may 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.
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Choice: Derek Lively II (12, via trade); Olivier-Maxence Prosper (24, via trade).
Dallas got the big man it wanted and created opportunities by moving Davis Bertans. Hard to argue that it wasn’t a good night. And now free traders await. Prosper is another player with great potential and was extremely difficult to guard at Marquette.
Choice: 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 champs just got another do-it-all guy who will also serve as insurance if Bruce Brown leaves in free agency.
Choice: Ausar Thompson (5), Marcus Sasser (25, via trade), James Nnaji (31)
No matter what, the Pistons were going to get better and deeper Thursday night. Thompson is incredibly athletic (even by NBA standards) and plays defense with plenty of energy.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Choice: Brandin Underground (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, coming to Golden State the same day the Warriors made a deal for Chris Paul by sending Jordan Poole to Washington.
Choice: 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 Villanova at No. 20.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Choice: Cason Wallace (10, via trade), Keyontae Johnson (50)
Wallace was terrific for Kentucky in his lone college season and played perhaps his best game in the Wildcats’ NCAA Tournament final. He can score; he didn’t seem to score quite often enough at times in college.
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Choice: Anthony Black (6), Jett Howard (11)
Paolo Banchero got a few more shooters to help him, and the young and talented Magic got more young talent. Another excellent night and it’s time to start thinking about Orlando as a team that should at least make the play-in.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Choice: Victor Wembanyama (1), Sidy Cissoko (44).
Their grade was secured the same moment the last ping-pong ball appeared in the lottery last month. Wembanyama was a no-brainer and now it’s up to Spurs to start the real work – get him into the gym, see how he fits and work out what the plan is going forward.
Pick: Gradey Dick (13)
Dick showed up for 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 also work in Toronto. Dick is a pure shooter and no team can have too many of them. The jury is still out on what the Raptors will be this coming season, but this kid will be a rotating piece.
Choice: Taylor Hendricks (9), Keyonte George (16), Brice Sensabaugh (28)
Hendricks is what an NBA great 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 is good from the line, has 3-point potential and can get to the rim. There is some work to be done, but he is a serious prospect.
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Choice: 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 tremendous potential and was heavily recruited by Duke, but foot problems are an issue. Wilson was the Big 12 Player of the Year at Kansas. The Nets probably didn’t pick three elite programs by accident. Much to like here.
Choice: Brandon Miller (2), Nick Smith Jr. (27), Amari Bailey (41).
Miller made sense over Scoot Henderson because the Hornets already have a point guard. But Henderson might be the more NBA-ready player.
Choice: 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 it’s rare to say, but he might play harder on defense than he does on offense. And getting Wong — the ACC player of the year — this late is a steal.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Choice: Kobe Brown (30), Jordan Miller (48)
Brown is a strong player, dependent on rebounding, and will probably need to improve significantly on the offensive end. Miller did a little bit of everything for the Miami Hurricanes in their run to the Final Four.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Choice: 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 is a winner; his high school team won, his Indiana team went to the NCAA tournament, and he will obviously benefit from the time with LeBron James.
Pick: Jaime Jaquez Jr. (18)
A four-year college player whose game became 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 and earned a spot on the All-Tournament team. New Orleans got a winner.
PORTLAND STYLE BLAZERS
Choice: Scoot Henderson (3), Kris Murray (23), Ryan Rupert (43).
Henderson has shown he is NBA ready. The Blazers drafted well. But really, the only question now is whether or not Damian Lillard is happy. Murray is the twin brother of Sacramento’s Keegan Murray and had a big season for Iowa – averaging just over 20 points per game. match.
THE WASHINGTON TRIDLERS
Choice: 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 happened to land a French player. (No, not that one.) But Coulibaly is highly touted by No.1 Victor Wembanyama, and that’s endorsement enough for us.
More:What will the Thunder get in NBA Draft pick Cason Wallace? He is a UK Wildcat. Enough said.
Wait and see
Choice: Kobe Bufkin (15), Mouhamed Gueye (39, via trade), Seth Lundy (46)
Bufkin had a great second half of the season at Michigan, and lefties always give defenses 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 many ways.
Choice: 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. Great view.
Pick: Julian Phillips (35, via trade)
The Bulls had to give up what would have been their pick due to breaches in free-agency last summer and struck a deal with Boston to land the Tennessee wing.
Pick: Emoni Bates (49)
He’s been heralded as a star since elementary school, had more than his share of promising moments in college, and now really needs to prove himself.
Choice: Gregory Jackson II (45), Tarik Biberovic (56)
Prospects. They are not expected to provide any real help anytime soon.
Choice: Andre Jackson (36, via trade), Chris Livingston (58)
Jackson was a big part of UConn’s national championship run. He will only benefit from being around Giannis Antetokounmpo every day.
Choice: Leonard Miller (33, via trade), Jaylen Clark (53)
Miller had many big moments playing with Scoot Henderson and the G League Ignite this past season. Athletics are hard to ignore.
NEW YORK KNICKS
Pick: Toumani Camara (52)
Given the trades they are making, this may be one of their last picks for a while. There’s nothing wrong with not valuing the draft, but giving up on it entirely is a dangerous game to play too often.
Choice: Colby Jones (34, via trade), Jalen Slawson (54)
Jones has skills the Kings crave; great shooter, great pass and great vision. A young Kevin Huerter type in that regard.