2015 NBA Draft: Winners and Losers

justise-winslow-heatThe NBA Draft often plays out like a poker game, where every team holds their cards close to their chest. The 2015 NBA Draft was no different, with certain teams revealing some surprise picks as the night went on. About the only certainly was that Minnesota wanted Karl-Anthony Towns, who pulled away from Jahil Okafor as the consensus number-one pick as the draft moved closer.

But the first surprise involved the L.A. Lakers skipping over Okafor to take Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell. The very next surprise didn’t have to wait long because the Philadelphia 76ers added Okafor, selecting a center with their top pick for the third consecutive year in a row. So was this a bad move by the Sixers? Moreover, was it a good idea by the Lakers to pick Russell? Find out as we discuss the winners and losers from the 2015 NBA Draft.

1. Winner: Miami Heat get Justise Winslow

Following an excellent freshman campaign for national champion Duke, Justise Winslow was expected to go within the top 5-6 picks of the draft. However, Winslow slid to pick #10, and Heat President Pat Riley made the smart play by scooping up the talented forward. Winslow may not make up for Miami losing LeBron a year ago, but he’s an amazing value pick at this point of the draft.

1. Loser: Sacramento Kings

Maybe this top spot in the loser category has been coming for a long time, thanks to George Karl’s insistence that the team trade DeMarcus Cousins. But it’s all culminated in the Sacramento Kings eyeing Denver point guard Ty Lawson (and Kenneth Faried), over taking Emmanuel Mudiay when he fell to them at number six. Mudiay is maybe the best point guard in the draft – something the Kings need very badly – while Lawson recently had a DUI and was part of the group that quit on now-fired Nuggets coach Brian Shaw. Interestingly enough, Denver took Mudiay with the seventh pick, meaning there’s a strong chance Lawson will be traded to the Kings.

kristaps-porzingis-knicks2. Winner: New York Knicks

The New York fans may not have liked the pick – since they’re still scarred by the 1999, first-round selection of Frédéric Weis – but Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis seems like a solid choice here. It’s obviously a move made for the future since Porzingis, who’s compared to Dirk Nowitzki, has a 6’11”, 220-pound frame that’s in need of some muscle. But he’s only 19 and many scouts think that he can be a great player once he gets some more time to develop. The Knicks also made good second-round picks by adding Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant and Spanish forward Guillermo Hernangomez.

2. Loser: Charlotte Hornets

After seeing their “Big 3” fail spectacularly last season, thanks to Lance Stevenson’s awful play, Charlotte should seriously consider rebuilding. Moreover, Michael Jordan should have dropped his obsession with Wisconsin big man Frank Kaminsky and taken the six draft picks (four first-rounders) that the Boston Celtics were offering (so they could take Winslow at #9). Kaminsky better be worth it because the Hornets could have nabbed a lot of good players with those picks.

OSUBBall24 KR 07.JPG3. Winner: L.A. Lakers/D’Angelo Russell

The Lakers were previously in the mix to trade for Cousins, but it’s believed that Sacramento wants to win now, rather than taking draft picks. So L.A. wisely used this pick to fill a need and take the 6’5″ Russell, who has great size and shooting ability at point guard. Russell himself can feel like a winner here too because he lands in a big-time market and gets the chance to learn from a Hall-of-Famer like Kobe Bryant in his first season.

3. Loser: Sixers/Jahil Okafor

Philadelphia GM Sam Hinkie is starting to look like the fantasy football player who takes running backs with his first six picks just so people have to trade with him. The Sixers now have three elite-talent centers in Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and Okafar. So the question becomes if they’ll trade one of these players, or keep them all. If it’s the latter, each center offers their own attributes, but, at most, Philly can only play two of them at a time. As for Okafor, he goes from a situation where he could have played heavy minutes in Minnesota or L.A., to fighting for playing time with two other lottery picks.

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