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NBA Draft Roundtable: Winners, Losers, and Everything In-Between

Canis writers react to the results of the 2020 NBA Draft.

2020 NBA Draft Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

With the 2020 NBA Draft now officially in the books, we all can collectively take a deep breath and begin making our 4th of July NBA Summer League Labor Day Halloween Thanksgiving Christmas/Hanukkah/holiday plans.

Seriously though, as we continue to navigate a year unlike any other, and with the expedited NBA offseason now slowing down to a manageable speed, the staff here at Canis Hoopus wanted to provide their final thoughts on the draft before we quickly pivot to the start of the upcoming season (training camps can begin on Tuesday, December 1).

Who were the biggest winners from the 2020 NBA Draft? What about the biggest losers? And what overall grade should the Timberwolves receive?

Let’s break it all down.

Which team was the biggest winner from the NBA Draft?

Kyle Theige: The Philadelphia 76ers — this is somewhat cheating because my selection involves a team who not only nailed the draft, but also made some stealth draft-night trades. Nevertheless, just moments after completing his “new hire modules,” Daryl Morey quickly revamped a Sixers roster that simply didn’t make sense into one that (in my opinion) becomes one of the two or three favorites in the Eastern Conference.

Dumping Al Horford’s contract to Oklahoma City at the expense of just one first round pick (and a second round pick as well) was a master stroke by the former Rockets lead decision maker, and bringing in Seth Curry and Danny Green to provide more spacing for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid was the icing on the cake. Throw in a couple of my favorite rookies — Tyrese Maxey and Paul Reed — and it becomes quite evident that Morey didn’t lose any speed on his fastball when moving to the East.

2020 NBA Restart - All Access Practice Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

Jack Borman: To me, the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, and Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA Draft. Dallas got a terrific two-way prospect in Josh Green at 18 and may have walked away with the steal of the draft in sharpshooting Minneapolis native (and my fellow DeLaSalle alumnus) Tyrell Terry at 31. The Mavs brought in Josh Richardson from Philadelphia in a draft night trade that also netted them Tyler Bey, one of the premier defensive prospects in the draft who has some 3-and-D upside as well.

Memphis made a trade with Boston at 30 to select perhaps the draft’s best shooter in Desmond Bane from TCU (who was #9 on my board). In the second round, the Grizzlies picked up Xavier Tillman, a versatile two-way big with solid playmaking potential and the ability to switch on defense, and Killian Tillie, a Synergy superstar with immense offensive skill and strong shooting chops. Philly got a steal in lottery talent Tyrese Maxey at 21, and got two elite shooters in Seth Curry in Isaiah Joe, while also picking Paul Reed at 58, who could end up being a valuable two-way player on a very team friendly deal if he develops quickly.

YoLeo: There were a handful of teams that came to mind for me. The Sacramento Kings snagged Tyrese Haliburton in perhaps the steal of the lottery. The Dallas Mavericks turned Seth Curry into defenders like Josh Richardson and Tyler Bey to pair with Luka Doncic (And Minnesota native Tyrell Terry). The Twitter Memphis Grizzlies walked away with Desmond Bane, and Xavier Tillman while picking up Killian Tillie for the ride.

However my answer will have to be the Minnesota Timberwolves. Homer pick? Maybe. Addressing multiple needs? Absolutely. They check the talent/future potential box with Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels. They check the roster flexibility box with Euro stash Leandro Bolmaro. Most importantly, they check the PR/fan base, the veteran presence, the playmaker who makes everyone better, and the defense boxes all with Ricky Rubio. Name another team that did that.

Mike O’Hagan: Similar to Leo, I also really liked what Dallas and Memphis did. However, I think Philadelphia had the best draft. I was shocked to see Tyrese Maxey fall to 21, and he figures to give them some North/South pop while being a menace on the defensive end. The additions of Isaiah Joe and Paul Reed at the end of the second-round were also great picks. Reed might take a little longer to make an impact, but I think Joe can bring a lot to the table for them, and soon.

The other team I’d like to highlight is Charlotte. They made some confusing picks on centers, but I thought they got the best player in the draft at #3 (LaMelo Ball) as well as a legit first-round talent and dynamo scorer in Grant Riller at the end of the second. That’s a pretty nice haul. Honorable mention for me is San Antonio, snagging Devin Vassell and Tre Jones.

Tyler Metcalf: Dallas. They nailed each pick and their draft night trade for Josh Richardson made complete sense. By adding off-ball scoring and athletic wing defenders, Dallas immediately got better. By selecting Terry, they were able to move on from Seth Curry in order to improve their defense without completely losing an elite shooter.

Dallas Mavericks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Which team was the biggest loser from the NBA Draft?

Kyle: I’m with my guy Mike on this one — few teams boast more about their draft capital and deliver less than Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics. Yes, they hit an all-time grand slam with the Jayson Tatum pick back in 2017, but since then they have used a bevy of first round picks on guys like Romeo Langford, Robert Williams, and now Aaron Nesmith (weird fit) and Payton Pritchard (huh?).

The NBA Draft is clearly not a science, but for a team trying to build around two cornerstones like Tatum and Jaylen Brown, these latest picks do very little to move the needle in an increasingly competitive Eastern Conference.

Jack: I’d have to say the Utah Jazz. They took Kansas star Udoka Azubuike at 27, who very likely would’ve been there in the mid-late second round. The trade market may have been bare for solid veteran players, but there were probably plenty of teams willing to trade back into the first round in order to get an extra year of team control with the first-round rookie salary scale. Their second round pickup, Elijah Hughes, is a great shooter, but will need some time to develop before he can be a consistent contributor to their playoff-bound team. They have a huge need at the backup PG spot that they didn’t address, despite a plethora of solid veteran PGs available, which could come back to haunt them in the playoffs.

YoLeo: I was going to pick on the New York Knicks (Obi Toppin at 8 & Immanuel Quickley at 25) with 2 less than impressive selections, but because they somehow squeezed value out of the Timberwolves, I’m not allowed to anymore. Instead, I’m going to say hello to my hometown area, the bay area, the majority shareholders of Wiggins Island, the Golden State Warriors. They didn’t make any overtly bad selections with their picks, but like the Timberwolves, they badly wanted to move their pick for something more valuable. Neither team accomplished that mission, but one team has quite a bit more pressure and a smaller “win-now” window than the other. Was adding 1 rookie, James Wiseman, in the first round the piece they needed to not only contend against their SoCal brethren, but also makeup for the devastating loss of Klay Thompson? Sure, they picked up Kelly Oubre after the draft, but perhaps their biggest trade asset, Andrew Wiggins the #2 overall pick, came and went without any proven value to show for it.

Golden State Warriors Draftee Press Conference Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Mike: I didn’t like what the Boston Celtics did. Aaron Nesmith is an elite shooter, but there were a lot of good shooters available who figure to be able to do more other stuff on the floor than Nesmith. Maybe I’ll be wrong and his shooting will really make up for his deficiencies pretty much everywhere else, but I’m not convinced. While the Nesmith pick is defensible, I have no idea what they were doing with Payton Pritchard at number 26. That is a massive reach.

Tyler: It is a close between the Jazz and the Hornets for me. Udoka Azubuike was one of the worst picks in the draft in my eyes. He is extremely strong and will be able to block shots and rebound. However, I struggle to see a world where he plays more than 5-10 minutes a game. Adding another immobile big who will get exposed in the playoffs didn’t make much sense to me.

Looking at the Hornets’ final results is tough. LaMelo Ball could be a franchise cornerstone, but I think it is extremely unlikely that ever happens. He has to rework his shot and pull a complete 180 with his defense. I understand why you take him at third overall, but I am much lower than the consensus on his future outlook. I don’t love the Ball pick, but I at least understand it. What I don’t understand is taking Vernon Carey with the 32nd pick. I didn’t have Carey in my top 60 players because he is brutal defensively and is fixated on the post on offense.

What draft selection was the biggest head-scratcher?

Kyle: As the least knowledgeable draft person here at Canis, I’m probably not qualified enough to answer this question, but I’ll say Jalen Smith to the Phoenix Suns was my biggest “WTF” moment of the first round. I don’t specifically have anything against the big man from Maryland, but it seems like James Jones and his front office took the “fit” approach rather than taking the best player on the board (Tyrese Hailburton) when making the selection at pick #10.

Yes, the Suns recently acquired Chris Paul, so the backcourt minutes in Phoenix are pretty scarce, but it should be noted that CP3 becomes CP36 (as in 36-years old) in just a few months, and having a guy like Haliburton learn from the veteran Point God could have set the Suns up for the next decade, rather than slightly increasing their ceiling for the next season or two.

2020 NBA Draft Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Jack: The Thunder taking Vit Krejci at 37 was a complete head-scratcher. No one other than Mike Schmitz of ESPN could say anything of value about him, and he wasn’t on the radar of any other NBA teams, which makes it rather crazy that they took him so early as a multiple year draft-and-stash prospect. There were plenty of other intriguing players on the board, there, too. Plus, the Thunder could’ve traded one of their infinite future picks to get back into the second round in the late 50s to get his draft rights.

YoLeo: I don’t want to go with the obvious choice *cough Smith cough* so I’m going to go with a different angle: Isaiah Stewart. Stewart was a bit of a reach by the Detroit Pistons with the 16th pick (24th on Sam Venecie’s big board from The Athletic), but it’s not so much about the reach or even him as a prospect that I was scratching my head about. At first glance, walking away with a promising young big to pair with the duo of Killian Hayes and Saddiq Bey makes sense as an exciting core. However you have to take a deeper look at the Pistons’ master plan.

A day after giving up a future 1st to gain the 16th pick (Stewart), GM Troy Weaver traded for Dewayne Dedmon. Okay, a veteran mentor. Sure. The next day, they signed Mason Plumlee to a 3-year $25M deal. I mean… 2 bigs can work if he shifts down to power forward, right? Less than half an hour later, they pick up Jahlil Okafor on a two-way deal. He probably won’t be in the rotation, fingers crossed. 175 minutes later, they sign Jerami Grant to a 3-year $60M deal. Oh and Blake’s still here. Sorry, Isaiah. I don’t think you’re playing this season.

Mike: I already expressed my disdain for the Pritchard pick before, so I’ll go with Immanuel Quickley at number 25 to the Knicks. Quickley is a 6’3” guard who’s too small to guard wings reliably and isn’t capable of playing the point. If they wanted a great shooter, which Quickley is, they should’ve just taken Desmond Bane.

Tyler: Isaiah Stewart. I had Stewart as a mid-second round pick, so him coming off the board at 16 was shocking. I think Stewart has a little more to his offensive game than he was allowed to show at Washington, but his lack of size, explosiveness, and defensive versatility makes no sense to take at 16.

Who was the steal of the draft?

Kyle: Jack is spot on here — Tyrell Terry falling into the second round was a joke (at least in my opinion), but his slide might end up being the best thing that ever happened to him. His fit in Dallas is a match made in heaven (not to be confused with manna from heaven), and the local product from DeLaSalle should see plenty of open looks playing alongside Luka Doncic.

Jack: Tyrell Terry to Dallas at 31. He’s a lights-out shooter who had a late lottery grade in some mocks. Despite his wiry frame at 6’3” 180, he competes on defense and makes up for it by possessing one of the smartest basketball minds (and minds in general, as he was a 3.5 student at Stanford last year) in this year’s draft class. Terry is a fantastic passer and made life easier for everyone he played with last year. He’ll thrive alongside Luka Doncic in that Mavs backcourt and I trust that Rick Carlisle will deploy him in ways that will help the rook succeed right away, particularly on offense.

2020 NBA Draft Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

YoLeo: In volume 1 of Canis Pulsus, my vote for the best three-point shooter in the draft was Desmond Bane. So if you’re able to take the best shooter in the draft with the 30th overall pick, then you’re doing something right. Memphis continues to flex it front office muscle by paying just 2 future second round picks and cash (While also acquiring LeBron James’ father, Mario Hezonja) to acquire Bane.

Mike: Bane is a good selection, but I’ll go back to Grant Riller. Riller was pretty exlusively mocked in the first-round, but slid all the way to pick 56 where Charlotte mercifully picked him up. Riller is an awesome scorer, and is ready to contribute right away. I have no idea how or why he slid so far, unless it was due to disputes over what kind of a contract he would sign as a second-round pick. That’s a real head-scratcher to me.

Tyler: Deni Avdija. Avdija became more and more of a steal every pick he wasn’t taken. His well-rounded game and extraordinary work rate made him the best player in this draft in my eyes. He will fit in nicely in Washington’s rotation and will contribute immediately.

What overall draft grade would you give the Timberwolves?

Kyle: A-. Anthony Edwards was always my first choice for the top pick, so him alone gives the Timberwolves a strong grade for their draft night endeavors. Reuniting my favorite franchise with my favorite player (Ricky Rubio) was also a coup, and while I didn’t exactly love how the end of the first round played out for Minnesota (Bolmero and McDaniels), it does jive with how this front office prefers swinging for triples and home runs over singles and doubles.

Much like Culver and Jaylen Nowell from last year’s draft, I’m not sure if Bolmero or McDaniels will ever move the needle much in Minnesota, but the attempt to strike gold rather than drafting a more proven commodity with a lower ceiling is at least a defensible strategy for a small market team like the Timberwolves.

Jack: In my Draft Recap piece, I gave the Wolves an A-. Edwards was the best value selection at #1, despite not being able to trade down and select him at 3, and will be a ton of fun to watch early on in his Wolves career. The process of trading for Rubio created an opportunity cost of pretty much 0, while netting the Wolves a legit veteran leader who wants to be here and allowing the team to take two home run swings in Bolmaro and McDaniels. The Bolmaro selection was puzzling at best, and he won’t be in Minnesota likely for two more seasons, which earned that pick a C from me. I trust the team’s international scouting, so let’s see what happens there. McDaniels has a sky high ceiling, but the chances it’s realized given his poor attitude and temperament are low, but not zero. If he’s able to convert his insane raw athleticism and foundational skills as a ball-handler and shooter, he will end up being the steal of the draft at 28.

YoLeo: Well as the official “Biggest Winner” of the draft, it’s hard for me not to give them anything other than an A+. However to be complete unbiased and fair, as the 2nd biggest Ricky Rubio fan in the world, I will give them an official grade of B. If it weren’t for the Knicks hosing us for the 25th and the 33rd picks then we probably would’ve been closer to the A grade. Also, I can see why the potential of Jaden McDaniels is intriguing, I definitely would’ve used the 28th pick on someone else (See my answer in the last question).

Mike: If I was being literal about this, I’d say “incomplete” simply because we have no real idea how the Leandro Bolmaro situation will play out, but for the sake of the exercise I’ll say B-. I’m fine with Edwards at number one, though I would’ve preferred Ball. Similarly, I don’t have an issue with either the Bolmaro or Jaden McDaniels picks, but there were just other guys on the board I would’ve preferred. Seeing guys like Bane, Malachi Flynn, Xavier Tillman, and Tyrell Terry go after McDaniels stung a little, but I understand the front office’s desire to take home-run swings at the end of the first-round.

The only other thing I would’ve liked to see was the Wolves try to buy back into the end of the second round. Players like Isaiah Joe, Grant Riller, or Paul Reed would’ve been nice to add at the end of the draft. In that sense, I didn’t “dislike” anything they did, it just felt like there was opportunity to come away with some better options. Ultimately, it’s a crap shoot though.

Tyler: B-. I think Edwards has the highest ceiling in this draft. He wasn’t my top player in this draft, but I certainly understand the selection and don’t have any qualms with it. My biggest issues with this draft arose with what they did with their later picks. The way they moved around for players who are complete wild cards was a complete mismanagement of assets. Both Bolmaro and McDaniels have promising potential, but the odds they never crack a rotation are extremely high. I understand few players at the end of the first round ever crack a rotation, but that was the appeal with this draft. The Timberwolves added zero players who will help them win now or who fit their style of play. They didn’t fill any immediate needs and took lottery tickets at each pick. While I’m more than happy for this paragraph to age poorly and make me look like a fool, coming out of this draft with a good shooter or defender who will help immediately would have made draft night more encouraging.

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