As the action-packed offseason continues, the 2017 NBA Draft provided some more fireworks. Who were five of the biggest winners Thursday night?
Not everyone can win the NBA Draft. Having a top pick gives you a leg up but it’s also about finding value wherever you’re picking. For some teams, winning simply means showing restraint — not reaching for a bad prospect or making a wild trade that doesn’t fit a realistic time line.
We had plenty of winners and losers in the NBA Draft. Here are the five teams that had the best night.
5. Los Angeles Clippers
In recent seasons, the Clippers have made very little noise in the draft. They always seem to have a low first-round pick, only a second-round pick or two or, in some cases like this year, none at all going into the night. Likely feeling unsatisfied with their unsuccessful postseason status quo, the Clippers refused to stand pat. Owner Steve Ballmer apparently doesn’t mind spending money, so that’s exactly what the Clippers did. They purchased two second-round picks, the No. 39 and 48 picks from Philadelphia and Milwaukee, respectively.
When it comes down to it, the Clippers’ roster has so many question marks that they had the luxury of going after the best player available with these picks. With the 39th pick, the Clippers took point guard Jawun Evans, a small point guard who has actually drawn comparisons to Chris Paul, whom the Clippers hope to bring back in free agency. Evans led the top-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboy offense with 19.2 points and 6.4 assists per game. If Paul stays, as the Clippers hope, he could mentor the young guard, who also loves to get into passing lanes.
The No. 48 selection of Sindarius Thornwell probably has the potential to make a bigger impact for the team. The SEC Player of the Year averaged upwards of 21 points per game for the South Carolina Gamecocks, but his 3-and-D potential particularly has long been desired by the Clippers. While Luc Mbah a Moute may or may not be back with the team, the team could always use more depth at wing. It’s also worth noting that Evans and Thornwell fell further on draft boards than most analysts expected, so they can reasonably seen as low-risk, medium-reward additions. That’s especially true if Ballmer doesn’t mind spending the extra money for the chance at improving his team.