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NBA draft: blockbuster Jimmy Butler trade makes Wolves the big winners

Minnesota picked up one of the best players in the league, Philadelphia and LA did what they were supposed to do, and dont write off San Antonio

Everyone was expecting something major to happen in the NBA on Thursday night, yet it was a little surprising when something actually did. Heading into the 2017 NBA draft there was plenty of talk of a team pulling off a big deal. Insiders threw out names like Paul George, Kristaps Porzingis and LaMacus Aldridge. Yet nobody had the Minnesota Timberwolves trading for the Chicago Bulls Jimmy Butler until the deal was nearly completed, after the draft has already begun. The blockbuster deal overshadowed an otherwise a draft night that otherwise went pretty much as expected and heads our discussion of last nights winners and losers.

The winners

Minnesota Timberwolves It wasnt even the unexpectedness of the move; it was the price tag that made the Timberwolves Thursday nights big winners. For the price tag of Zach LaVine, still recovering from an ACL injury, Kris Dunn and the No7 pick, they managed to get one of the best players available during this offseason while still snagging Chicagos 16th pick, which they used to pick up the rights for Creighton big man Justin Patton. While hes not the greatest fit, the addition of Butler to a team that already had Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins means that Minnesota should finally (finally!) break that playoff drought sooner rather than later.

Markelle
Markelle Fultz takes a draft day selfie. Photograph: Frank Franklin II/AP

Philadelphia 76ers For the second straight year, the 76ers had the No1 overall pick, this time thanks to the Boston Celtics still baffling decision to trade down. They did was what they supposed to do, making the easy play by picking Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, delighting long-suffering fans with what should be the final indication that everything there has finally been processed. To celebrate, Philadelphias Joel Embiid came up with the tweet of the night, coming soon after the Los Angeles Lakers made their selection at No2:

Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid)

Please dunk on him so hard that his daddy runs on the court to save him.. https://t.co/cMvt5RYiSQ

June 22, 2017

LaVar Ball Not to read too much into anything, but its obvious that Embiid was referring to Lonzo Ball. Boo his father all you want and the audience at Barclays Center certainly did last night but you cant deny that LaVar accomplished exactly what he said he would do, he predicted that his son would play for the Lakers and only the Lakers, and lo and behold! what team was there to pick him at No 2? Never bet against Zeus and Jesus.

Atlanta Hawks Yes, they drafted Wake Forests John Collins at the No19 spot, but honestly, the Hawks are here mostly because of my yearly tradition of praising the team that part ways with Dwight Howard. Congratulations in advance to the Charlotte Hornets, who have the opportunity to do so next summer oh, and also for picking up Kentuckys Malik Monk. Not a bad pick to fall in ones lap at the No11 slot.

Adrian Wojnarowski Once again, the veteran reporters Twitter feed was several picks ahead of the action for much of the night, making people wonder if ESPN isnt interested in hiring Woj, currently working for Yahoo!s the Vertical, just so that he will stop spoiling the broadcast.

Golden State Warriors They didnt have any draft picks last night, so they went and got Jordan Bell for straight cash, spending a NBA maximum $3.5m for the Bulls No 38 pick. Sorry LaVar, but the Warriors remain the true Big Ballers.

Dallas Mavericks The Mavs were openly thrilled to get North Carolina States Dennis Smith Jr with the No 9 pick. The young point guard was exactly the type of player the veteran team needed, dont be surprised if he ends up having a more impressive first season than many of the names drafted before him.

Freshmen Sixteen first-year players were picked last night, including the first seven selected, were first-year players, a NBA record. A new trend for one-and-done players? Or a sign of an impending end?

Losers

Chicago Bulls With the No7 pick, the Bulls picked Arizona big man Lauri Markkanen. Now theres a chance that Markkanen, a bit of a project, could end up being a good player at some point. You know who he will never be as good as? That would be Jimmy Butler.

Listen, the Bulls have clearly made their decision to start rebuilding, and its honestly probably overdue. Its just hard to imagine that this was the best deal they could get for Butler, and it doesnt bode well for the franchises future.

New York Knicks In a way, Thursday felt like a win for Knicks fans. Despite the threats, if only because team president Phil Jackson ended up not trading away 21-year-old face of the franchise Kristaps Porzingis (aka the only hope remaining for much of this beleaguered fanbase). Talks to remain the Latvian big man stalled and instead they picked Frances Frank Ntilikina with the No 8 pick.

The Knicks fans attending the draft that night were kinder to Ntilikina than Porizingis, whom they notoriously jeered when they drafted him in 2015. They were understandably much harsher when it came to Jackson, who spent the last few days alienating their best player for almost no reason and dealing with reports that he fell asleep during a potential picks recent workout. Meanwhile, team owner James Dolan has been blissfully ignoring of the all this, choosing instead to spend draft night singing with his sadly extremely real roots rock band like a boozy bozo Nero, paying someone with actual talent to fiddle for him while Madison Square Garden burns.

Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings)

We’re on to encores. I just yelled PLAY FREE BIRD and FIX THE KNICKS (he has a song called that) but he’s playing a song about moonshine

June 23, 2017

Every player forced to wear a hat from a team that traded them earlier in the draft Why are we still doing this? Its incredibly cringeworthy and not in an entertaining, compelling way, like Ricky Gervais in a TV show; but in an unpleasant, mean-spirited way, like Ricky Gervais on Twitter.

Lauri
Lauri Markkanen is, in fact, not going to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves, although you may be forgiven if this image gives you that impression. Photograph: Jason Szenes/EPA

Detroit Pistons Unfortunately, it was a disappointingly reasonable draft last night, meaning there werent a lot of those satisfying and hilarious what the heck are they doing? picks. The first real reach of the night could have been the Pistons selecting Duke guard Luke Kennard at No 12, who projects to be a poor mans JJ Redick, a pick who received muted reaction thanks to his questionable defense.

First impressions

Cody Taylor (@CodyTaylorNBA)

Jonathan Isaac on the Magic drafting him:

“I had no idea. I did not work out for Orlando.”

June 23, 2017

Incomplete

While its fun to break out the morning-after analysis, most of Thursdays moves will be better judged in how they work out in the grander scheme of things. Ask Greg Oden, Anthony Bennett, Draymond Green or Isaiah Thomas about how that particular process can go. We will only be able to rank some teams draft day by what happens next.

Boston Celtics For the Celtics, it will all come down to how good Fultz ends up being in comparison to Jayson Tatum, the Duke forward who ended up going to Boston at No 3. GM Danny Ainges curious decision to trade down after securing the No 1 spot could end up haunting the franchise.

It also didnt look great that potential trade acquisition Butler went to Minnesota for an underwhelming package. But the Celtics arent done this offseason. They remain in talks with the Indiana Pacers for Paul George, despite his apparent goal of joining the Lakers in 2018, and they clearly will be in the mix for any player potentially available this offseason.

Los Angeles Lakers As long as they learn to tune out LaVar, Lonzo Ball should be a perfect fit in LA, but its still been an odd week for the Lakers. Earlier they gave away 21-year-old DAngelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick (who ended up being Utah forward Kyle Kuzma), mostly to shed Timofey Mozgovs contract. In theory this should open up a spot for a star player, or two, next summer, but its not a move without some risk.

San Antonio Spurs They failed to trade up, and didnt find a home for a disgruntled LaMarcus Aldridge, but time has taught us to never accuse the Spurs on faltering on draft night. Knowing them, Colorados Derrick White will end up working out better for them than a healthy chuck of the 28 players ahead of them. And hey, if they do have to move on from Aldridge, well maybe they would have room for a certain MVP-caliber point guard. Things just work out in San Antonio.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/23/nba-draft-timberwolves-jimmy-butler-trade

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