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Before Luka Doncic strutted toward the stage, the trade surfaced. It had long been in the works, a deal between the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks, and its completion brought buzz Thursday night at the Barclays Center.
The trade headlined the 2018 NBA draft, which featured few surprises. One of the surprises, though, was Michael Porter Jr.’s slide down the lottery.
Prior to the draft, Porter’s landing spot was as hard to predict as NBA Twitter itself. Some thought he could go to Sacramento at No. 2. Others saw Memphis as a possibility at No. 4. Ultimately, he fell to the Denver Nuggets at No. 14, leading us to the rest of the winners and losers from Thursday night:
After a 20-year absence from the basketball universe, apparel brand Puma pounced back into the sport. It did so ahead of Thursday night’s draft, and it did so aggressively.
Not only did the brand sign No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton to a shoe deal, but it also inked a deal with No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III. Two other Puma endorsees — Michael Porter Jr. and Zhaire Smith — were selected 14th and 16th, respectively.
— PUMA Basketball (@PUMAHoops) June 20, 2018
Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter assisted in the relaunch, which featured Walt “Clyde” Frazier’s signing a lifetime deal with the brand. Carter holds the title as Puma basketball’s “creative director,” and he’ll play a part in selecting future endorsees. One of them has already been announced: Rudy Gay.
The 11-year pro capped off the splash made by the NBA’s newest brand on draft week.
Loser: The Bridges family
His mom is the vice president of human resources for Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, a company that works with the 76ers. He grew up in Philadelphia, and he even played at the Wells Fargo Center as a Villanova Wildcat.
So, when Mikal Bridges was selected by the 76ers with the No. 10 pick, he and his family were ecstatic. Little did they know he’d later be traded to the Phoenix Suns for the No. 16 pick.
Bridges did not find out about the trade until after doing a news conference. The good news? He’ll be playing with Ayton — another rangy draftee — as well as stellar shooter Devin Booker.
Winner: Dallas and Atlanta
Luka Doncic won the EuroLeague championship and the EuroLeague MVP playing for Real Madrid in Spain. He was the youngest European player to accomplish both, and he was the most experienced player in the draft.
The Dallas Mavericks wanted Doncic so badly that they traded the No. 5 pick and a future protected first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks for its No. 3 pick. Atlanta was enamored with former Oklahoma guard Trae Young, so the trade made sense for both parties.
Each franchise picked up its preferred player through the deal. They both generated the draft buzz that was highly anticipated.
Loser: Michael Porter Jr.
In the days leading up to the draft, former Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. was the talk of the lottery. Some thought the Sacramento Kings could select him at No. 2. Others thought the Memphis Grizzlies could select him at No. 4.
THE PICK IS IN: Michael Porter Jr. will be joining Mile High Basketball! pic.twitter.com/esVT9H3q38
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) June 22, 2018
Porter told reporters after being picked his first contact with the Nuggets came Thursday, days after teams saw medicals that worried them. Last November, after playing two minutes and seven seconds in his team’s season opener, Porter underwent a microdiscectomy surgery. The 6-foot-11 forward then rehabbed for three months and ultimately returned to play in the SEC Tournament.
Missouri lost both of its games after Porter’s return, but he remained a projected lottery pick. But even after a week that had him rising among many NBA draft boards, Porter continued to fall, almost falling out of the lottery.
According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, the drop forced his losing nearly $26 million on a four-year deal.
Winner: Suit shorts
Trae Young was drafted No. 5. He was the first point guard to be selected in the draft. But while that fact is notable, his fashion statement was even more so.
Like LeBron James did in this year’s NBA Finals, Young sported a suit with, yes, shorts. They were burgundy-colored, just like his coat, and they were matched by his little brother, Timothy Young.
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) June 21, 2018
In fashion sense terms, Young won the draft.
Loser: Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia’s goal Thursday night was to soup up a roster that was good enough to make last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals. Unfortunately, it had to do so without a permanent general manager.
Two weeks ago, 76ers president Bryan Colangelo resigned after his wife admitted to using Twitter accounts to praise her husband and criticize team members. Therefore, 76ers coach Brett Brown stepped into the role to make picks.
Whether plans were changed or not when Brown stepped in, Philadelphia ended up with former Texas Tech forward Zhaire Smith (via a trade with the Suns for Mikal Bridges) and former Wichita State guard Landry Shamet. Time will tell whether the 76ers made the right choice, but they’re not alone.
Time will tell for the other 29 NBA teams, too.
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