The Winners and Losers of the 2018 NBA Draft

On a night of lottery trade drama, players dropping and rising unexpectedly, wingspan-focused punditry, and Outstanding Use of Thesaurus, who came out on top?

Winner: Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks win the draft after parlaying the 5th pick into the best player in this year’s draft. Luka Doncic will be the next European franchise player in Dallas and a guy Dirk Nowitzki can pass the baton to after a year or two of mentorship. And all Dallas had to give up was their 2019 first round pick, which could end up a late-lottery or non-lottery pick if the Mavericks compete next year like head coach Rick Carlisle and the Dallas front office fully expect to. Plus, Luka is already ingratiating himself with Texans. He knows his audience:

Loser: DeAndre Ayton

Yes, I’m aware he was taken #1 overall and thus is winning from a certain short-sighted perspective. But after getting roasted by Joel Embiid  (who quietly managed to upstage Ayton’s moment while effectively throwing shade at all the hyperbolic ESPN pundits) on Twitter, and Ayton roasting himself thoroughly the night before by flubbing a twitter ad (in almost the exact manner as Markelle Fultz last year), I think this dude is about to lose. Markelle Fultz was #1 overall last year, is he winning now?? Nah. Ayton had a chance to redeem himself during his live interview during the draft when Rece Davis asked him to kick it to Adam Silver to announce the next pick, and once again he failed spectacularly despite being fed the exact line to say. I’m taking a long-term view on this one because whiffing on the tee-ball tee twice is a bad, bad omen for his future, my friends. Out of the league in 3 years.

Winner: Denver Nuggets

Despite the trade rumors surrounding Kenneth Faried and the 14th pick, the Nuggets stood pat once Michael Porter Jr. fell to them. While there are legitimate injury concerns (the Nuggets will reportedly consider “red-shirting” him), he was a consensus top 5 talent with MVP-level upside before his back injury, and could still become that. The Nuggets, who have plenty of scoring options with Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic, and now Michael Porter Jr., also picked up a guy with serious defensive upside at wing in Justin Jackson out of Maryland, who was overlooked in most draft narratives despite his ideal size and athleticism for defensive versatility.

Loser: Mikal bridges

The hometown kid who grew up dreaming of playing for the Sixers, who stayed in Philly for college and brought home two National Championships with Villanova, and whose mom works for the Sixers, was drafted by the Sixers with the 10th pick only to be traded away several picks later for Zhaire Smith and a future first. Bridges even held a press conference after his selection and talked about how happy he was to stay in Philly, only to get blindsided immediately after by the announcement that he had been traded. How deflating. On the plus side, he is going to a Phoenix team with a lot of upside, who had a good draft of their own.This is probably a win for the Sixers front office who must have wanted Zhaire Smith all along, and managed to pick up a future first they can use as trade bait at the same time. Impressive move by Brett Brown and the Sixers’ phantom GM conglomerate. Also – what does this say about how Sixers feel about Fultz and his shooting ability? 

Winner: Collin Sexton

Sexton was taken with the 8th pick by the Cavaliers, considerably higher in the lottery than many expected. He gets to join the reigning Eastern Conference Finals Champions, and could have the opportunity to play with the GOAT in Cleveland ( but probably won’t). The Cavs are probably losers here for reaching. But Sexton still wins after having two videos of him looking like a badass go viral on social media.

Losers: Knicks Fans

Knicks fans just can’t help themselves. Just as Kristaps Porzingis was given the thumbs down from Knicks fans on draft night 3 years ago, the same father-son duo who went viral then were back again to heckle the Kevin Knox selection. Maybe they were doing it for superstition’s sake? Either way, I think we are the real winners here for getting to witness this dumpster fire of a franchise and their salty, loser fans look like clowns. To give Knox credit, he displayed an immediate chip on his shoulder in his post-selection interview, speaking confidently and positioning the boos as motivation. 

Winner: Spoilers

Resident NBA insiders Adrian Wojnarowski (ESPN) and Shams Charania (Yahoo Sports) duked it out all night to break each draft pick before Commissioner Adam Silver could officially announce them, despite ESPN’s best attempts to prevent the spoilers. Woj gets bonus points here for multi-tasking as he was commenting live for the ESPN broadcast while simultaneously tipping each pick on Twitter. He managed  to skirt ESPN’s no-spoiler rules using thesaurus-fueled euphemisms — rather than announce a team will pick a player, he just heavily implied it: “Boston is tantalized by Robert Williams,” “Portland has a laser on Anfernee Simons,” “The Spurs are fixated on Lonnie Walker,” etc. Revealing each pick/trade 30 seconds before the official announcement seems a bit silly and futile in retrospect, but it made for fun night on Twitter, and I’m not particularly concerned about maintaining the integrity (*groan*) of the draft announcement process.

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