picks, analysis, winners and losers, Oklahoma City Thunder rebuild, Chet Holmgren, Detroit Pistons, free agency, Kemba Walker trade

The first round of the NBA draft has come and gone, with Australian Dyson Daniels learning his fate and a few surprise selections flipping mock boards on their heads.

Already some clear winners have emerged — including Josh Giddey and the Oklahoma City Thunder — but not everyone would have been happy with how Friday unfolded.

Here, foxsports.com.au looks at the early Winners & Losers from the draft.

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Josh Giddey and the Thunder

The Australian was a revelation for the Thunder last season, accelerating Oklahoma City’s rebuild and forming an exciting combination with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the backcourt.

This year’s draft was about putting pieces around Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander to set the Thunder up for the future — and they did just that.

In Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City have a 7-foot center who can make an immediate impact on the defensive end, with the length and instincts to be a disruptive shot-blocker.

He is multi-skilled on the offensive end too and will be a rim threat for Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander to target with their playmaking.


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In theory, the Thunder now has its ‘Big Three’ of the future to build around.

Then you add in the high upside Ousmane Dieng out of the New Zealand Breakers and versatile Jalen Williams to round out a draft haul that adds plenty to OKC’s existing core.

There is still plenty of room for the Thunder to move in the trade market, with 18 first-round picks up their sleeve until 2027 — still the most in the NBA.

Even in the trade that saw Oklahoma City move up to draft Dieng, all three picks sent to the New York Knicks were not any of their own. They were all lottery protected picks from other deals.

“You look at the talent they’ve gathered,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on Friday’s broadcast.

“You now see the athleticism, the talent… you can start now to see the shape of a team that is going to be deep and talented and still with multiple first-round picks through the next few years and salary cap space when they decide to get involved in free agency.”

Dyson Daniels

Before Friday it always looked like the 19-year-old Australian was going to end up at either the Portland Trail Blazers or New Orleans Pelicans.

Both seemed like pretty good fits for Daniels, although when the Blazers passed on him with the No. 7 pick, it no longer looked a sure thing the Pelicans would take him with the eighth.

In the end, Daniels is off to New Orleans and should thrive in a playoff contender already brimming with offensive firepower led by Zion Williamson, CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram.

Dyson Daniels is joining New Orleans. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

Daniels can still make an impact on the offensive end but he is more of a pass-first, team-first guard, not necessarily suited to doing all the scoring himself.

It is on the defensive end though that the Australian will make his presence felt and the Pelicans need that, especially if they end up trading Devonte Graham this summer.

Daniels’ shot remains a concern but he won’t be under any pressure to develop it right away at New Orleans.

Once he does, the Australian could be one of the higher ceiling role players out of this year’s draft.

Put simply, he will have an impact on winning and that is what the Pelicans need right now after pushing the Suns to six games in this past season’s playoffs.

Detroit Pistons

Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said he was going to be aggressive this offseason, and he stuck to his word even before Friday’s draft.

First, Weaver sniffs Jerami Grant to the Portland Trail Blazers before using a pick from that move to trade back into the draft and land highly-rated big man Jalen Duren.

Then you add in Jaden Ivey, who was rated the fourth-best prospect on the board but dropped down after the Sacramento Kings drafted in forward Keegan Murray instead.

This draft was all about Detroit finding a running mate for last year’s No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham and alongside Ivey, the pair can form one of the most athletic young backcourts in the league.

Jaden Ivey is off to Detroit. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Ivey’s playmaking will still need work but that won’t be a major problem for the time being with Cunningham more than comfortable in doing most of the facilitating.

“I fit well with Cade,” Ivey said.

“He’s a guy who wants to win and is a very unselfish player. I can play on the ball or off the ball. We can take turns.”

The Pistons are tipped to negotiate a buyout with Kemba Walker, who they acquired as part of the trade with the Knicks and should still have $44 million ($A64m) to play with in free agency.

Damian Lillard

This off-season was about pleasing Damian Lillard for the Blazers.

They went some way to doing that by trading for Jerami Grant and he will be pretty happy with their pick on Friday too.

Earlier in the week, ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony reported that Lillard was “high” on Portland using its No. 7 pick to select Sharpe.

That is despite the fact Sharpe won’t necessarily be the win-now asset Lillard wants to put himself in a position to succeed right away.

The 19-year-old did not play any college basketball so it may take him some time to work out how to fit into defensive systems at the higher level.

In saying all that, Sharpe is the most dynamic shot creator in this year’s draft and is an athletic freak with tremendous upside.

That upside means Portland could have just drafted the franchise’s next superstar should the 32-year-old Lillard leave at some point in the near-future.

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Kemba Walker

Nothing can go right for Walker at the moment.

Since June last year, the 32-year-old has been traded from the Celtics to the Thunder, then bought out by Oklahoma City, signed by the Knicks, traded to the Pistons and is now set to be bought out again.

In simple terms, Walker is now on track to join his fifth different team is just over a year.

It continues an injury-induced decline for Walker, who was averaging under 10 points on 27 per cent 3-point shooting when he was removed from the Knicks’ rotation last year.

Kemba Walker is on the move again. Mike Stobe/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

That was in stark contrast to what Walker once was in his best days at Charlotte and Boston, a “pretty difficult” reality to take for a four-time All-Star.

“It’s just so different,” Walker said earlier this year.

“I’m in a whole different position and role. That’s on me to learn how to play with guys and learn when to get my shots and it’s just taking more time than what I’d like.”

Jabari Smith

All signs pointed towards the 6-foot-10 forward being taken with the first overall pick.

Instead, Smith was made to wait until his name was finally called, selected by Houston with its No. 3 pick.

For the time being it may feel like a disappointing result given even pre-draft Smith was asked questions about what it felt like to be the presumed first pick.

It was only a few minutes before the draft itself started that word began to spread that Paolo Banchero was off to the Magic instead.

In some ways though, falling to third with Houston could end up being a blessing in disguise since it comes without the added pressure of being the lead scorer Orlando desperately needed.

Jabari Smith was taken with the third overall pick. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

The Mavericks (and maybe the Knicks)

In a totally unexpected twist (hint: sarcasm), the Knicks were the laughing stock of the basketball world once more after what on paper appeared to be a puzzling move.

Somehow, New York appeared to trade first-round pick Jalen Duren and Kemba Walker while getting absolutely nothing back in return.

Of course, it later became clear that the Knicks did know what they were doing.

The move shed between $15 to $18 million in cap space, creating much-needed room to fund the Knicks’ pursuit of Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson.

It is far from a done deal for the Knicks though, who likely still need to make another move to free up enough space for Brunson but it is a solid start.

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Whether Brunson is really the game-changing point guard to go after is debatable though, particularly when it meant giving up a long-term asset in Duren.

There is no guarantee the Knicks land Brunson either so they could end up the losers out of this too.

For now though, New York is in a stronger position to contend for Brunson’s signature, which is of course trouble for Dallas given how important he is in easing the offensive load on Luka Doncic.

Dallas is the only team that can offer Brunson a fifth year in any deal though, putting it in some position of power at the negotiating table.


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