2016 NBA Draft Winners and Losers: OKC makes out, Celtics underwhelm
Boston fails to make a splash, international players steal the show and both the Magic and OKC fare well in their trade
Picking winners and losers on the night of the draft is an admittedly absurd task, as no one will truly know which teams fared best until years from now. It's a terrible cliche to call it an "inexact science," but when you start thinking about Draymond Green's ascendance and Anthony Bennett's disappearance, what else is there to say?
With that in mind, CBS Sports' Matt Moore, Ananth Pandian, Zach Harper and James Herbert did their best to put the 2016 NBA Draft in perspective immediately. These are our winners and losers -- feel free to look back at this and laugh in a year or two.
The Magic wanted to abandon their slow rebuild and try and improve now. Victor Oladipo was talented and showed flashes but major limitations, especially shooting. And defensively, they desperately needed an upgrade with a veteran presence. That's why they pulled the trigger on the blockbuster trade with the Thunder Thursday night. Serge Ibaka gives them an All-Star caliber player who can defend and play small-ball center. He can hit from 3-point range and lead the defense. Ibaka is instantly the best player on the floor and paired with a Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, and Aaron Gordon, it gives them athleticism and versatility.
The Magic turned spare parts into a really solid addition. -- Moore
The Phoenix Suns had their pick of two of the most intriguing players in the draft at No. 4 -- Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss -- and they ended up with both of them. First, they took Bender, and 25 minutes later, they put themselves in a position to grab Chriss.
The whole league knew that the Sacramento Kings wanted to trade their No. 8 pick in the draft, and the Suns managed to get it in exchange for their No. 13 pick, the rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic and a 2020 second-round pick. If Chriss makes good on his immense potential, this will look like a steal.
Bender and Chriss both project as versatile power forwards, but they could not be more different players. Bender has great instincts in just about every aspect of the game, and he should at the very least be a playmaking 4 who can switch onto smaller players in the NBA. Chriss is an athletic marvel who has as much upside as anyone in the draft, but did not pass much or show much discipline on defense in college. These two will make Phoenix fun to watch, even if it takes them a few years to figure it out. -- Herbert
One of the biggest keys to the Oklahoma City Thunder trying to remain in the elite of the NBA is building sustainability, which can come in many forms, and often takes a while to materialize. When the Thunder knew they couldn't keep James Harden happy with his role or under the max, they shipped him out. The slow play of it was ending up with a pick that netted them Steven Adams. Since then, they've turned Adams into an integral part of their core that gives them the ability to play big while still switching defensively.
With Serge Ibaka possibly not happy in his role (the emergence of Adams and the money given to Enes Kanter could have something to do with that), the Thunder got out ahead of a potentially tricky situation once again. As Ibaka enters a contract year, the Thunder flipped him to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis.
Getting all three players for Ibaka, who was a terrible 3-point shooter during the season limiting his effectiveness on offense, is a coup for Sam Presti. Oladipo is an upgrade over Dion Waiters, and gives them flexibility in whether or not they want to match an offer sheet to Waiters this summer. This also solves their starting shooting guard issue, but gives them the versatility to play with three wings when Oladipo is on the floor with Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson and Kevin Durant.
Sabonis is one of the more promising big man prospects in the draft, and should be able to develop in a similar way Adams did for the Thunder. Ilyasova gives them a shooter at the power forward position, if he sticks around. That's three potential rotation players, and good ones at that, for a guy who they may have had to overpay in a year or maybe didn't want to come back at all. That shouldn't be hard to explain to Durant in contract negotiations this summer. This team that almost made the NBA Finals just got a lot better. -- Harper
With potentially talented players like Skal Labissiere, Dejounte Murray and Deyonta Davis still available to be selected, team after team opted to draft a foreigner instead. An NBA-record 14 out of the 30 picks in the first round were international players, and that includes the No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons, who hails from Australia. Other notable international players drafted are Thon Maker and Dragan Bender.
International players were all the rage several years ago as teams didn't want to miss out on a Dirk Nowitzki-type player. But that came to a halt after many of those players flamed out, unable to make the transition to the NBA. Scouting is now much more advanced though as teams do extensive evaluations on players before drafting them so this year's international crop could likely be the real deal. -- Pandian
Celtics fans had hopes coming into the night of walking away with Jimmy Butler, Khris Middleton, Kevin Love or DeMarcus Cousins.
They walked away with Jaylen Brown, Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic.
Oh, and they didn't thin their already overloaded roster.
Oh, and they missed out on a lot of top-flight prospects that tumbled down the draft. Having eight picks in a weak draft was always going to be tough, but the Celtics absolutely needed to walk away with more than they got. They could have had Kris Dunn, who several teams were still wanting.
The Wolves never pulled off a draft-night trade for Jimmy Butler, but were in talks all night because the Bulls were so interested in Dunn. The same was not true for Brown, who finds himself in a weird spot with Jae Crowder and the plethora of two-guards in Boston.
It's draft night, so it's entirely possible that one of the overseas players will turn out to be phenomenal. Draft night analysis so often looks terrible. But you can't examine what the Celtics came out with, especially relative to expectations, and consider them winners. On what was supposed to be one of the biggest nights in Celtics history, they came up with a big pile of "meh." -- Moore
This draft night might be a massive loss for Ibaka. Going into a contract year, you want to be on a winning team and in a situation that proves your worth on the open market. That may not be the case for him in Orlando, unless Frank Vogel can turn things around in a hurry.
The Magic have solid surrounding frontcourt pieces with Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon. Ibaka can make up for Vucevic's issues on the defensive end, and the two can space the floor enough (if Ibaka is hitting 3-pointers consistently) to complement each other. Gordon and Ibaka can be a lockdown pairing defensively, especially in Vogel's system if he gets everybody to buy in right away. So how could this end up being a loss, and a massive loss at that for Ibaka?
He also goes into a contract year with Elfrid Payton as his point guard. Third year for Payton is huge because he's struggled a lot at times, especially in his second season, with finding an impact on the court that was positive. Payton can't shoot at all, is bad at finishing at the rim and isn't quite the passer needed (although he's above average) for setting up non-traditional scorers. Ibaka is a non-traditional scorer, who may struggle to get good looks consistently in an often bland Vogel offense.
If he ends up being a poor offensive option on a non-playoff team, it could affect how teams view him going into free agency. Anybody will pay for even an average player at the position if you're on a winner. Just look at what Harrison Barnes gets this summer. But if Ibaka looks to be slipping in any way on a losing team, the bottom line may still be high for his salary, but he may not get contenders looking to sign him. That's a tough spot to be in if you care about winning. -- Harper
Skal Labissiere's rise and fall and rise has been documented at nauseam -- he moved to the United States at 14 after surviving an earthquake in Haiti, arrived at Kentucky as the projected No. 1 pick in this draft and struggled mightily for most of his freshman year before a few impressive games near the end of it. He declared for the draft despite his uneven season, and the hope was that his potential as a stretch big would keep him in the lottery.
That is not what happened. He sat in the green room as team after team passed him up. For some prospects, this ends up being a good thing -- instead of going to a dysfunctional organization, you can wind up with a good team that knows how to develop players and win. That is not what happened, either.
After the Philadelphia 76ers let him slide past their No. 24 and 26 picks, Labissiere was there for the Toronto Raptors at No. 27. Had he fallen to the very end of the first round, the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors could have scooped him up at Nos. 29 or 30. Instead, the Raptors went a different direction and the Sacramento Kings took him with the 29th pick.
Labissiere will join a crowded frontcourt and a team that does not have a great history of developing players. The Kings have a new coach and the culture could be better next year, but this could not possibly be what Labissiere had in mind when he decided to turn pro. -- Herbert
Celtics Draft Party
Armed with the potential of eight picks, the Boston Celtics held a ticketed fan draft party on Thursday. Boston was rumored to be in trade talks all day with the Sixers and even reportedly discussed trading for Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler. Instead the Celtics kept their first-round picks and made some questionable selections.
With the No. 3 overall pick, Boston selected Jaylen Brown, which seems like a bit of stretch. Especially with Kris Dunn still available. Immediately after the pick, Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck addressed the fans and said Boston was never truly engaged in serious trade talks and it'll be keeping Brown. Fans didn't take too kindly to this news and began to loudly boo Grousbeck.
Stunned the Celtics took Guerschon Yabusele at No. 16? So was he. pic.twitter.com/lXysjrocuR— Matt Dollinger (@matt_dollinger) June 24, 2016
The Celtics draft party is a sad, sad place right now https://t.co/YvBhqIdN4U— Cameron Tabatabaie (@CTabatabaie) June 24, 2016
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