The 2016 NBA Draft produced plenty of talking points as teams moved up, traded out of spots and in one case, made a big splash.
Though it was considered a weak draft class from top to bottom because so many freshman — who were not fully developed — tossed their names into the hat, a lot of teams walked away with better rosters nonetheless.
Here are out draft night winners and losers:
Oklahoma City Thunder — Forget the draft, the Thunder were able to swing a trade with the Orlando Magic that sent Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to Domantas Sabonis (Orlando's number 11 overall pick) for Serge Ibaka, who has not really lived up to expectations.
The addition of Oladipo gives this team the third scorer they were desperate for while also saving money. Kevin Durant, if he stays, wants to win now, and the additions of Oladipo — an athletic slasher who' is great on defense as well — and Sabonis — a hard-nosed post player who will team nicely with Steven Adams — in particular should help sway him to return.
Phoenix Suns — The Suns got two talented, high-upside big men in the first round in Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss. We love Bender. At 7-1 with a deft, outside stroke, he could be the athletic power forward the Suns desperately need. Bender may not start right away like Kristaps Porzingis did in new York last season, but he will help out sooner than later.
Chriss is an interesting prospect because he played on a bad Washington team, but Jalen Rose said before the draft that he thinks Chriss can be just as good as Brandon Ingram, who went number two overall. Chriss is a bouncy, athletic stretch-four who likes to shoot and rebound. He could start right away.
If those two picks were not good enough, the Suns stamped their foot on the draft by taking Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis in the second round. The mighty-mite ball-handler has a great chance of sticking as the team's backup point guard.
Memphis Grizzlies — It is rare to see a team get multiple college stars in a draft these days, but that is exactly what the Grizzlies received when they selected Wade Baldwin IV in the first round and Deyonta Davis with the first pick in the second round. Though they had to give up a 2019 first-round pick to move up to get Davis, we think the value — Davis was a projected top-10 pick — was worth making the move.
Davis is a tremendous shot blocker and a developing shooter. He is a ferocious dunker and a great rebounder. He needs to play harder at the next level, though. Baldwin gives Memphis a safeguard in case Mike Conley bolts. Though the Vanderbilt star is a bit of a tweener, he projects as a scoring point guard in the NBA. He should make an impact from day one.
Atlanta Hawks — Not only did they lose point guard Jeff Teague to an Eastern Conference foe (Indiana Pacers), they used the pick they were awarded — 12th overall — to reach on Baylor swingman Taurean Prince. The Hawks also picked later in the first round at number 21, where they probably could have still swooped up Prince. Instead, they reached again on DeAndre Bembry, a 6-6 small forward who cannot shoot.
Prince is basically the same player as Kent Bazemore — a tall small forward who can shoot beyond the arc. What they needed was a shooting guard or a backup point guard for depth. Denzel Valentine would have been a much better selection. Malachi Richardson would have been a better option with their second pick.
Milwaukee Bucks — We want to preface this by pointing out the Bucks did make a great pick in the second round in Malcolm Brogdon. It would have taken a minor miracle for them to rise out of this spot after their awful first-round selection, though.
With the 10th pick, the Bucks decided to reach on Thon Maker, a 7-1 centre who has never played at a level higher than high school and no one knows his real age. At best he is a long-term project who eventually turns into a 10-point, 10-rebound guy. At worst, and far more likely, he sits on the bench for four years and no one hears his name again.
We get gambling on upside, but choose it a little more wisely.
Boston Celtics — Boston made a great pick in the second round when it nabbed Ben Bentil. However, the Celtics did not do enough with the potential they had in store. The Celtics had eight picks entering the night and really did not use them on anyone who can instantly become a top-eight player on their already deep squad. They chose to keep the third pick instead of taking a reported proposed trade with the Philadelphia 76ers for Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington and picks 24 and 26 in this draft.
That trade would have given the Celtics an upgrade at power forward, their weakest position, and they still would have had developmental picks.
Instead, Danny Ainge elected to take California's Jaylen Brown, who is a borderline awful shooter and ball-handler. As a guard, that is not good. Brown is a very intelligent person with a high basketball IQ, but Boston needed difference makers, not projects.