The state of Minnesota left Thursday’s NBA draft feeling victorious, but the state of Illinois couldn’t say the same. Months before any of the players selected in the draft compete in an NBA game, we already have our first round of winners and losers, courtesy of Adam Silver at the podium. Put on your suit and Big Baller Brand tie, we’re reliving the less obvious outcomes of the draft.
Winner: The De’Aaron Fox and Lonzo Ball Rivalry
Paolo Uggetti: After Fox was drafted fifth by the Kings, he was asked how he felt about Lonzo Ball — whom he did battle with twice in college — going ahead of him. He embraced it, saying, "It gave a lot of people what they wanted. We’ll play each other four times a year."
Do you remember Fox and Lonzo going at it in the middle of March Madness? Now we get them facing each other four times a year for the next decade. It’s the best possible scenario. And though the ever-reserved Lonzo will likely be quick to dismiss it, Fox is leaning into it.
De'Aaron Fox is back. He slapped bill on Lonzo's hat and announced his is better than everyone's cause it's a visor. Lonzo was amused.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) June 23, 2017
The Balls were talking about putting the Lakers in the playoffs right away following Lonzo’s arrival. Maybe they should worry about getting through Fox first.
Loser: Markelle Fultz’s Instagram
"Excited to head to (City) and join the (team name)."—Markelle Fultz pic.twitter.com/eUzTf7fs46— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) June 23, 2017
Haley O’Shaughnessy: When (draft pick) is trying to make a first impression on (new team), the ideal sponsored Instagram post shouldn’t omit (specific proper noun) after his publicist hands over the copy. But (new team) will soon forget, when (draft pick) wins his first game against (new opponent). Trust the (synonym for procedure).
O’Shaughnessy: In trading Trey Lyles and the 24th pick for the rights to Donovan Mitchell at no. 13, the Jazz made the most of their first-round situation. The athletic combo guard could turn out to be the one that got away for the teams who selected just before the 13 slot — especially once they’re matched against the versatile defender. If Gordon Hayward does bolt in free agency this summer, Mitchell’s scoring ability will help mitigate the adjustment for the Jazz. Besides, former Louisville players have done well in Utah — just ask this guy.
Loser: Josh Jackson Rumors
Uggetti: It would take more than just my own two hands to count all of the rumors Josh Jackson was involved in leading up to the draft. Would he go no. 1? Was he promised top three? Who was going to trade up for him? Phil Jackson? The Bulls? The Spurs? Jackson was the human embodiment of a smoke screen, finding himself in virtually every rumor and turning up in every leak, including the only one that came true — that he would sign with Under Armour.
Jackson didn’t go top three. He was drafted fourth by the Phoenix Suns. Don’t believe everything you hear.
Loser: Malik Monk
O’Shaughnessy: After lethal Kentucky shooter Malik Monk fell to the Hornets at no. 11, he told ESPN that going so late was disappointing. Just the day before, Monk was certain he would go to the Suns or the Knicks, saying his orange watchband would be one of his future team’s colors. Instead, Monk will be taking shots in shades of purple as the steal of the lottery, playing for a team that has been trying to figure out its identity since drafting its last exciting guard prospect in Kemba Walker. Since then, little has changed except their mascot.
Winner: The Mavs and Dennis Smith
Uggetti: This is the most perfect fit of the draft. Dennis Smith Jr. belongs in Dallas. Guess who else the Mavs drafted with the no. 9 pick? A streaky shooter from Germany, you may have heard of him.
Now they have Dallas Dennis. I’m here for it. And most importantly, God Shammgod is here for it:
Mavericks assistant and ball handling legend God Shammgod trained Dennis Smith Jr. in high school. Believes Smith to be best PG in draft.— Jake Fischer (@JakeLFischer) June 23, 2017
From the looks of it, Dennis may need Mark Cuban’s Cyber Dust too.
Loser: Danny Ainge
Uggetti: Hell will freeze over, pigs will fly, and I will go to my grave before Danny Ainge decides to pull the trigger on a draft-night trade. The asset collector teased us again after being linked to Kristaps Porzingis all day, and then — after Tom Thibodeau and the Wolves made the deal he never could by getting Jimmy Butler in a fleecing — Woj reported that a Paul George deal had a chance to be.
Of course, as I sit here and type this, guess what. There was no deal made. I’m sure Ainge has his reasons: They liked Tatum, the right deal wasn’t there, the Pacers were asking too much, etc. But for those of us who have longed to see a press release in green saying that the Celtics at last acquired a superstar, this was more of the same disappointing conclusion.