Let's break down the winners and losers from Thursday's NBA draft.
Ben Gordon and Luol Deng both are ready to step in and play next season. With Kirk Hinrich at the point, the Bulls have some nice young perimeter players. If Tyson Chandler and Eddie Curry ever figure it out, this team could be good.
Very few players in this draft are ready to play right away, but Luke Jackson is one of them. And with LeBron James drawing all kinds of attention, Jackson's shooting ability will be huge. He will find a lot of open shots, and he also has the ability to put the ball on the floor and create. The Cavaliers are building a nice team.
Dwight Howard has loads of potential and could be a player around whom to build a team. Adding Jameer Nelson to run the club gives them a tough winner with a sweet jump shot. Brazilian Anderson Varejao, the team's second-round addition, is big and moves well. That's three nice pieces for a rebuilding team.
Perhaps Nelson's addition means the rumored Houston trade for Steve Francis is off.
San Antonio Spurs
For a team with a late first-round pick and two late seconds, they did pretty well. Beno Udrih was the best point guard at the Chicago pre-draft camp, and Romaine Sato could turn into a Bruce Bowen-type defender. Udrih could be a fine backup to Tony Parker, and Sato gives them another player with strong character, a team-first defender.
Danny Ainge was in a tough spot with three late first-round picks. He desperately wanted to trade up but was unable to. The Celtics ended up with Al Jefferson, Tony Allen and Delonte West.
Jefferson is an athletic power forward, but he came straight out of high school and has a long way to go before he's ready to contribute. Allen and West were nice college players who could turn into decent pros. With three firsts, Ainge had hoped to land an impact player, but it doesn't appear that he did.
Josh Childress will be a nice player in the NBA, but the Hawks took two players who play the same position as Childress later in the draft. Josh Smith is a talented swingman who has no idea how to play yet – he's just a kid. Donta Smith is a gifted athlete who could end up being a good player. But with Childress playing ahead of him, will be find the minutes he needs?
Larry Bird had hoped to trade and land Luke Jackson, but he was unable to pull it off and settled for Colorado center David Harrison at the end of the first round. Harrison is big and athletic, but he was out of shape his senior year and needs to lose weight and develop a work ethic if he's going to succeed in the NBA.
- Luke Jackson
- Jameer Nelson
- Josh Childress
- Luol Deng